|What does the next year hold in telehealth? Well, it’s higher than before the pandemic. That’s because the impact of the spread of the pandemic has helped to increase public awareness on how essential it is to arm one’s self with knowledge about vaccines.|
Also, it has helped protect you from diseases you can prevent if you take prompt measures. In this guide, we’ll tell you what the next year will look like for telehealth. Let’s jump right in!
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth is delivering information, health care, and education from far via telecommunication equipment and electronic gadgets. It encompasses many specialties of health care.
They include medicine, nursing, dentistry, and mental health. Mobile phones, computers, and other electronic devices can deliver telehealth services. Telephone videos and interactive media are also helpful.
How Has Telehealth Helped Combat COVID-19 Pandemic?
Telehealth can provide improved access to healthcare and services. It can improve health outcomes, reduce wait times, and minimize the cost of health care. Also, it can help address health disparities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought telehealth to the forefront of the health care system. It has exposed weaknesses in our health care system, including a shortage of beds and health care providers and a lack of access to health care.
Telehealth can help address some of these issues. But, it must be done correctly and subject to the same scrutiny as in-person care. Here are some ways telehealth helps address the COVID-19 pandemic crisis:
Telehealth providers can use video visits to help patients who cannot leave their homes. It can also help patients who need care but are unable to get to a clinic.
Remote patient monitoring
Pharmacists and health practitioners can use telehealth to collect health data from patients’ homes. The data can help clinicians monitor chronic conditions, detect health issues earlier, and provide treatment remotely.
Pharmacists can use telehealth to distribute medications to their patients remotely. It can help address the shortage of medicines, especially in remote areas.
Telehealth is a term that refers to using technology to provide medical care at a distance. It includes directly connecting with patients for audiovisual communication, remote patient monitoring of physiologic and other parameters in their homes or between healthcare facilities.
Telehealth and COVID-19
Telehealth has benefitted society and pediatricians during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, healthcare providers are now advocating to create policies that address children’s unique needs after this extreme event has subsided.
Many telemedicine barriers were lifted temporarily due to the crisis. Still, there must be a long-term solution for payment restrictions so that health care can continue seamlessly in future models of pediatrics without interruption or decline in quality.
AAP Policy on Telehealth
The American Academy of Pediatrics published a policy statement on how telehealth can be used to increase patient access. It also advocates for equitable telehealth access and adequate payment coverage. One identified goal is that all children should access quality health care regardless of geographic location or socioeconomic status.
Another focus is making sure young patients are not excluded from benefits because they happen to live far away from their provider’s office. This would ensure equity with rural populations who benefit more than anyone else through telemedical support networks such as broadband internet connections on school buses.
Telehealth technologies may provide high-quality care to patients in rural areas. However, these technology improvements mustn’t widen health disparities resulting from the digital divide.
Physicians must ensure health care delivery meets quality standards and maintain pediatricians’ status as key stakeholders in the process. According to policy, there will be opportunities to determine evidence-based best practices for children during this new era of healthcare.
Further, it is vital to provide a coordinated and personalized approach for pediatric care. Kids deserve access to continuous, integrated health care that includes both in-person and virtual options as appropriate. The medical home model will likely evolve with technology, but the core component of avoiding fragmented and episodic treatment remains intact.
According to a new policy statement, pediatric health care providers should be compensated for the time and effort they put into virtual visits. While there are costs associated with implementing telehealth technologies, digital healthcare can benefit clinicians and patients by providing more flexibility during doctor’s appointments; it might also help reduce phone expenses from traveling long distances to visit doctors in person.
Telemedicine offers a critical lifeline for those at risk of getting COVID infections and invalidates transportation as a restriction to medical treatment in rural or remote areas. However, it also presents problems related to patients’ access, quality, and equality while utilizing telemedicine, particularly for elderly patients.
In some cases, doctors will be able to come to the home of a relative or caretaker, but if they can’t, then telephone-based telemedicine may be the option.
In reviewing over 20,000 elderly patients, there was no significant difference in usage by age or gender, although the use differed by race. When it came to patients’ ethnicity, black patients would like to use telemedicine to obtain primary care, while Hispanic patients would not. A study found patients who had a telemedicine consultation had a reduced chance of hospitalization for illnesses.
However, the incidence of hospitalization among black patients who used telemedicine was more than for white patients. In the 85 and older age group, patients who used telemedicine were likewise at greater risk of hospitalization when compared to individuals ages 65 to 74.
The telehealth service must provide access to and training for telemedicine platforms for it to be successful. That may be a barrier for elderly individuals and those with limited internet access.
A third of all visits to physicians’ offices are for older individuals, who typically have a range of additional conditions and impairments.
The research estimated that 13 million people age 60 and over struggle to obtain telemedicine services. With about 6.3 million people 65 and older who have poor or no previous experience with technology and with age-related visual impairment, telephone calls may enhance access to technology for them. However, phone visits are unsatisfactory for accessing treatment that requires visual evaluation.
The community must find a way to overcome the digital gap. Beginning in early 2020, Medicare Services was paying for video and in-person visits at the same rates. That should make all treatments affordable and accessible. Health care providers and communications companies should provide insurance plans that cover the use of telecommunication equipment, particularly as universal telemedicine becomes more prevalent.
The dangers of chronic hypertension can’t be taken lightly, especially with the life-threatening outcome associated with the condition. Continuous care is vital for hypertensive people due to critical health problems like heart attack, stroke, and heart disease. Whether you already have hypertension or suspect you might be at risk, it is entirely manageable through approved medical provisions.
Telehealth is one such provision that is changing healthcare. It allows the exchange of medical data between medical care providers and patients remotely. Through telehealth, you can manage your high blood pressure without leaving your home. This is possible through online appointments using phone calls and videoconferencing.
However, it’s vital to understand that you will need to visit a healthcare center in person in certain conditions. Also, verify with your medical care provider what features of your hypertension are manageable through telehealth.
Managing Hypertension through Telehealth
A medical professional will help you understand how best to treat, diagnose, and monitor hypertension through telehealth and when to visit them in person. But here are some areas where telehealth is applicable.
Health history assessment Telehealth helps your medical provider review your history before an in-person appointment and analyze test results or previous hypertension readings.
- Difficulties in Traveling for In-person appointments
If you are elderly, have a busy work schedule, or lack reliable transportation, telehealth is the best option for managing high blood pressure.
- Inquiries and consultations about prescriptions
You can quickly ask for guidance on medication refills or authorization for new prescriptions near you through telehealth.
- Monitoring blood pressure at home
Telehealth makes it easy for your provider to monitor blood pressure results through an online appointment. This way, your doctor can track your hypertension with ease through self-measured blood pressure (SMBP).
However, please note that if you exhibit signs of a stroke or heart attack, contact your doctor and seek in-person treatment immediately. Also, if you have adverse reactions from prescribed medications or other sudden health changes such as headaches or dizziness, get in-person treatment right away.
Importance of Telehealth
Telehealth helps in regular monitoring of hypertension at home and relaying results quickly to your provider. It also helps avoid white coat hypertension associated with stress, anxiety, or discomfort in medical surroundings. Taking readings in comfortable surroundings increases accuracy. Telehealth is also cost-effective and offers easy access to healthcare, and it’s safe, mainly due to COVID-19 risks compared to in-person visits.
On the other hand, make sure you have a reliable internet connection, appropriate devices, and health insurance for ease of access. Also, as you prepare for an appointment, write down any questions beforehand, contact your insurance provider, and make sure your setup is ready.
The telehealth industry is many years old and has experienced tremendous growth over the last decade. Telehealth became even more vital after the COVID-19 pandemic forced brick-and-mortar clinics and health centers to close in the wake of lockdowns and a fast-spreading virus. Since the first waves of attack, doctors and healthcare facilities needed ways to invest in telehealth.
Key Stats about Telehealth
The American Medical Association reported a 53% increase in telemedicine insurance claims between 2016 and 2017. A recent study by McKinsey & Company also published that up to $250 billion of the money spent in healthcare in the USA can be virtualized. What’s more, hospitals are increasingly using video and remote technologies to conduct doctor-patient visits, and the future of telehealth seems guaranteed.
What It Means For Entrepreneurs
If all the indications and projections are accurate, entrepreneurs have an excellent chance of taking part in the medical industry in various ways. One immediate way entrepreneurs can overhaul the telehealth industry is through digital solutions. Telemedicine is driven by the digital transformation of the traditional hospital model. Entrepreneurs can bring efficiency, reliability, organization, convenience, and security to the medicine industry by providing software and hardware.
The impacts of technology are already being felt as entrepreneurs identify new healthcare faucets. The market already has heart rate monitoring watches, apps, and healthcare products, such as research kits, health kits, and care kits. However, there’s still massive potential for introducing new products and applications. Telehealth relies on efficient communication, flexibility, and a wide range of digital products. With increasing customer acceptance, the market is poised for tremendous growth and demand for solutions.
Navigating the Post-Pandemic Industry
Entrepreneurs have opportunities coming from all directions. Many healthcare practices involve face-to-face appointments, and virtualization will require different solutions. Many hospitals have already adopted telehealth, and practitioners are taking compensation for virtual consultations, so the industry is due for an overhaul. For entrepreneurs, the challenge is to identify what’s on-demand, analyze emerging opportunities and forecast the future of telehealth.
Telemedicine (TM) recently became necessary when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of most brick-and-mortar operations. Since the first wave, remote communications have become the substitute for face-to-face visits, with TM vital in modern healthcare delivery. Here’s an overview of the future of telehealth for hematology and oncology care.
Telemedicine Virtual Visit Compensation
Lack of proper compensation has been the leading barrier to the widespread implementation of telemedicine. However, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) mandated financial parity of virtual and face-to-face visits, an excellent incentive for oncologists and hematologists to invest in telehealth services for their patients. With the barrier gone, Telemedicine is set to become the mainstream option for doctor-patient visits.
Demand for Hematology-Oncology Services
The number of diagnosed cancer cases has been increasing but so has the number of cancer survivors. ASCO projects a 40% increase in demand for cancer care services by 2026. Unfortunately, statistics indicate fewer oncologists each year, meaning the increased demand is poised to coincide with a shortage. As ASCO projects, there’ll be a shortage of at least 2,200 oncologists by 2026.
TM offers a feasible solution for optimizing oncology care, as it eliminates the need for face-to-face visits. Doctors can schedule more flexible and manageable appointments remotely via phone calls and internet technologies like web conferencing. As it stands, the increased demand for cancer care and shortage of practitioners will work in favor of telemedicine.
A Virtual Future for Oncologists/Hematologists
Oncology and hematology centers are located close to state lines, which has been great for the implementation of telehealth. TM video and telephone visits are already taking place in many areas, and its future in oncology and hematology care is almost inevitable, given the growing focus on convenience.
Telemedicine saves patients the burden of commuting to brick-and-mortar offices and centers. It also makes it easier to receive alternative opinions without leaving home. All current developments point to future hematology and oncology care heavily reliant on telemedicine. However, some oncologists say it’s still too early to project the role of telehealth.
Some would say it’s long overdue, but finally, it has come to pass. On June 24, 2021, Phil Murphy, the Governor of New Jersey, signed into law legislation that allows healthcare workers to authorize the use of marijuana for medical use via telehealth/telemedicine.
A press release indicated that Sen. O’Scanlon Declan and state assemblywomen Joann Downey and Pamela Lampitt sponsored the bill.
This new law allows licensed healthcare providers to authorize medical marijuana on qualified patients through telehealth or telemedicine. However, it is a requirement that telemedicine/telehealth must abide by the standard care required by in-person treatment and assessment.
After a patient is authorized to use medical marijuana, the healthcare provider can decide whether to continue the authorization via telehealth/telemedicine or invite the patient for a face-to-face (in-person) consultation.
According to medical experts, most marijuana patients have mobility problems that make it impossible for them to visit doctors’ offices as frequently as is desired. For this reason, they are left with no option but to rely on telemedicine/telehealth.
The medical experts emphasize that the anxiety reduction, nausea prevention, muscle relaxation, and pain-relief properties of medical marijuana can’t be ignored because they are necessary for patients suffering from acute or severe medical conditions.
Since the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, insurers and the federal government have supported virtual visits and have endorsed them for many therapies, including medical marijuana. That explains why over 24 states have temporarily permitted the prescription of medical marijuana via telemedicine. This has boosted the number of patients seeking medical assistance but cannot attend physical sessions. Many health workers and patients are now calling upon the authorities to make this model permanent.
According to two medical experts, Downey and Lampitt, this new law is so much welcome because it will leverage technology to make it easy for people to access medical treatment at reduced costs.
Digital authorization is the best way to enable doctors to provide cannabis patients with medication because most of these patients are certified homebound or developmentally disabled.
Some states considering expanding or enacting medical marijuana access include Alabama, Nebraska, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Georgia, Utah, and Virginia.
Over the years, telemedicine is expanding in the USA and has a positive impact on HIV care. It results in reduced transmission rates and increased patient/provider satisfaction.
In retrospective research, the Open Forum Infectious Diseases found telemedicine visits to be equally beneficial as in-person visits for suppressing and managing viral load in individuals with HIV.
Researchers looked at the records of both groups of patients between May 2017 and April 2018. They found that a telemedicine group fared better than an in-person care group.
Telemedicine consultations can have many benefits. You don’t need to travel in person for these visits, which means you can save time and effort on your commute. There’s also the added benefit of having something like streaming video to keep you updated throughout consultations.
There are many other factors to consider when deciding on a location’s suitability for HIV patients. The study’s findings were that HIV patients who are rural-based have worse prognoses than those who reside in an urban area.
A study published in the American Journal of Family Medicine found that telemedicine for HIV patients in rural Georgia yielded comparable results as in-person care.
To reach their goals for the study, the researchers tested a treatment called anti-viral treatment on everyone in the study group. The objective was to make sure that there was no negative correlation between the efficacy of this treatment and the age, race, and gender characteristics of participants.
82% of patients in the telemedicine group and 50% in the in-person group had a CD4 count greater than or equal to 643 cells/mm3. The results were all statistically significant.
The study compared treatment outcomes for patients in two groups-those who received traditional face-to-face therapy and those who used a video conferencing platform. Although the group that used computer-based methods showed reduced improvement at first, this difference disappeared over time.
The research offers hope that telemedicine could seem like the solution for those rural areas with the highest level of access to care issues.
Telemedicine is a helpful resource for the long-term management of chronic diseases such as HIV in locations without local physicians.
A study conducted by Chia-Chun Chiang, MD, and colleagues shows that telemedicine has enabled care for many patients with headaches during the COVID-19 period. Since March 2020, many health care organizations in the US have canceled optional, nonurgent procedures and clinics in reaction to the COVID-19 emergency. Telemedicine was fast adopted and has now developed into an essential healthcare tool. It reduces the physical and geographic barriers, prevents the spread of the virus, and saves personal protective equipment.
The researchers did an online survey to assess the patients’ perspectives regarding headache care using telemedicine throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the desire of patients to continue using telemedicine even after the pandemic ends. The survey had 1172 respondents with a mean age of 45.9 years. Most of the respondents (86.8%) were women.
The survey participants were asked if they utilized telemedicine appointments for their headache problems during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Most patients (57.5%) said yes, while the rest said no. Among those who said no, 56.1% said they did not have a reason for telemedicine visits, while 25.2% reported they did not know about the option. 85.5% of those who said yes used telemedicine for follow-up headache care. The results of the survey exhibited that patients were satisfied with the use of telemedicine for headache treatment. 62.1% reported their experience as very good, and 20.7% said it is good.
The results show that telemedicine offers patients a chance to better control their headache problems without the need to travel and expose themselves to the risk of getting COVID-19.
The researchers also noted various barriers to care that manifested in the study results. Respondents who did not use telemedicine mentioned different reasons, including not being aware of the telemedicine option, utilizing telemedicine but not being provided with the opportunity by their healthcare provider, telemedicine not being covered by insurance, and not having the required technology to connect with providers.
Chiang highlighted various steps to address these challenges. These steps include expanding insurance coverage for telemedicine even after the end of the pandemic and promoting telemedicine so that patients can know it is an available option to them. She also stated that telemedicine is restrained to patients with a reliable internet connection and that internet access is necessary while working to enhance telemedicine headache care.
Here is no doubt that the ongoing COVID19 pandemic has had an impact on our way of life. Doctor and medical appointments are among the typical routines that have been disrupted and gave way to telemedicine. According to Colleen McCormick, the director of sustainability at UC Davis, the popularity and use of telemedicine have grown up to 3000% since the pandemic hit, which has suggested it might be the best way to handle climate change. Let’s try and dissect Miss McCormick’s statement and see how it might help climate change.
For starters, the number of patients’ visits to hospitals in 2019 was 122 million. This number includes both light and life-threatening health conditions. It also takes into account the dentist appointments. 2019 registered the highest number of hospital visits in the 2010s decade.
Due to social distancing and ‘stay at home’ initiatives to reduce the spread of the deadly coronavirus, the number of hospital visits has significantly dropped by 32%. The figure has remained constant for the non-COVID hospital admissions.
The reduced number of hospital visits and the inclusion of telemedicine has eliminated a need to drive to and from the hospital, according to Peter Yellowless of UC Davis, which has contributed to a 10% reduction in carbon emission. That’s a lot of carbon emission reduction, where the US healthcare systems are among the most pollutant sectors worldwide.
Given the advancements made in the technology sectors and the willingness of the healthcare sectors to adopt these technologies, it has resulted in telemedicine aiding in the following ways:
- Non-physical follow-up appointments
- basic consultations
- improving comfort and convenience of patients and doctors through virtual visits
- helped to keep people safe in their homes, hence curbing the spread of COVID19
Other than reducing carbon emission through reduced driving, patients can save money, with millions of dollars that would have been spent on fuel since the pandemic started being saved or included in other expenditures.
The only hope is for healthcare facilities and patients to keep using telemedicine post-pandemic to keep the current changes permanent and improve.