The covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on every aspect of human life. Due to the travel and interaction challenges posed by the pandemic, telehealth has become more of a necessity than an option. However, with the vaccine outcomes, there is a possibility of humans bidding goodbye to the illness. The question now is how the future looks like for this critical service post the pandemic.

The American Medical Association seems confident that telehealth will remain a critical part of health services even after the pandemic eases. During the pandemic, 50% of healthcare providers offered telehealth services. Even after the pandemic, these institutions will still consider virtual health care alternatives for their patients. Nonetheless, the choice of service will depend on the ailment and the patient’s condition.

Advantages of Telehealth

Telehealth services have no limitations of space. Traditional medical care practice requires a lot of room for patients, doctors, members of staff, and equipment.

It also happens that patients and healthcare practitioners must be at the same place at the same time. This is, however, different from telehealth as it breaks barriers of geographical locations.

In most parts of the country, health care institutions enjoy the benefits of telehealth as it reduces overcrowding in hospitals. Space in health facilities has been a critical factor during the pandemic. A hybrid model made up of both in-person and telemedicine works perfectly when put when adequately strategized.

Remote Care Technology provides Patients with healthcare alternatives. The healthcare arena has shifted with advancements in technology. Healthcare providers have tight schedules with patients located in different parts of the country. However, the pandemic has opened up and pushed for the adoption of new technologies that were overlooked in the past. The same changes apply to the modes of payment, policies, and procedures.

With the expansion of telehealth, healthcare systems can now work with limited budgets while attending to a broader clientele. They are, therefore, able to offer even more affordable consultation services to their patients comfortably. Additionally, the services provided by telehealth are of the same quality as those of in-person.
Challenges

Compliance with the policies and procedures is a significant factor in the provision of virtual healthcare services. More patient data is collected and stored by health care providers. There is also a need for proper management and oversight.

Fortunately, the United States Department of Health and Human Services suspended imposition of penalties to institutions that didn’t comply with HIPAA Rules during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, this suspension will not last long. With the return of normalcy, these regulations are going to take full effect.
Post-pandemic expected changes

Experts predict telehealth services will advance, taking a new shift post-pandemic with much better hybrid services and platforms. One positive impact of the crisis on healthcare systems was that it broke down barriers through technology and opened new opportunities.

Covid-19 has profoundly changed our lives. The thought that the person next to you can potentially affect you has exponentially increased everyone’s anxiety, thus affecting how people work and interact with each other. This has, however, become a severe challenge when it comes to persons experiencing homelessness. —who basically can’t survive without sharing some facilities such as bathing and ablutions.


Because of their increased risk of contracting and spreading the virus, local officials, health care providers, and other service providers have prioritized their care. For impactful and efficient care to this vulnerable group, health care experts have opted to leverage the power of technology. They are now using Telemedicine in providing much-needed help to homeless people.


Telemedicine is currently playing a significant role in providing patients with a convenient and cheap method of consulting clinicians. One most basic form of Telemedicine is telephone communication. This approach has made it easy to deliver much-needed quality health care to vulnerable patients virtually. Telemedicine is a more advanced form of video conferencing, which allows for real-time encounters and viewing of images and patient documents simultaneously.


Years ago, Telemedicine could not be practical for the homeless. However, things have changed, and technology is now accessible to almost everyone. Through the help of various organizations, Telemedicine has made it easier for the homeless to receive better health care. In a partnership announced last year, veterans dealing with homelessness were given the privilege of consulting with caseworkers through telehealth kiosks.


Generally, the homeless community has always had it rough accessing health care services, particularly specialty care such as otolaryngology. Here’s what a Chicago-based otolaryngologist had to say.


“I worked as an otolaryngologist at the Chicago Franciscan Outreach shelter for three years. Unfortunately, we only made it there a few days a month to help patients with tonsillitis, sinusitis, hearing loss, ear infections, and thyroid disorders. As such, our impact was limited. The onset of Covid-19 further paralyzed our services, forcing us to prioritize routine screenings.


To help solve the health care crisis within the homeless community, we have decided to partner with Rush University Medical Center and local homeless advocates to launch a virtual care program. Our primary focus is to provide otolaryngology care. The lost will have their ear, nose, and throat issues virtually addressed by a physician from a kiosk. Once in a while, they will get the opportunity for an in-person visit.


From my experience working with underserved communities, the best way to serve the homeless is to bring care to their doorstep. Besides making it easily accessible, it goes a long way in helping them save on the little money they have.


Combining Telemedicine and in-person visits are not limited to only delivering otolaryngology care. The same can be applied to other specialties in medicine across the United States to improve access to health care, cut down the costs involved, reduce the time wasted in delivering services face to face, and effectively care for the people struggling with homelessness.”

The pandemic has created a society of video chats for the main source of communication, and some workers in the mental health industry are certain this culture is here to stay. Due to hospitals only being able to accept emergency cases, close to 100% of mental health care became remote during the height of the pandemic, according to the director of ambulatory services at Ohio State Harding Hospital.


What this means for the future is that patients will be able to decide whether they would prefer in-patient consults or to receive them via telehealth. With the technology available today, patients have experienced the same level of care that they would have received as an in-patient.


Even the previous intensive outpatient program, a strict three to the four-week program at Ohio State Harding Hospital, now gets held over Zoom. Potentially there could even be a future for telemedicine due to the massive success of telehealth in the last year.


When the pandemic started, patients were wary of using telehealth services for physical conditions, and most telehealth patients made use of the services. This was illustrated in a recent study from mid-March to early May 2020 published by RAND Corp, where 53.6% opted for treatment via telehealth compared to the 43.2% of patients with a physical condition using telehealth during that same timespan.


Telehealth services have also increased the rates of patients keeping their appointments as they are easier to attend due to the flexibility of attending the meetings, however like all things, there are a couple of downfalls to the program as not all age groups fall into the demographic of being able to use Video Chats and body language has also been raised as a concern when consulting over a call instead of in person. Reliable internet and having the privacy to talk openly are also issues raised when needing to use telehealth services instead of an in-person consultation.


As the world slowly starts to go back to normal and in-patient consultations have started up again, telehealth services have proven to be a crucial and needed solution for the future. Most medical institutes will offer a range of both to allow the patient to choose what suits them best.

In a recent study, Royal Phillips, a global leader in health technology, found out that more people experienced sleep challenges during the outbreak of COVID-19. A whopping 58% of the study respondents expressed a willingness to seek help for their sleep concerns from a specialist through telehealth services even though they hadn’t tried it yet.

The survey indicated that there was broader interest in seeking virtual care spurred by the virus outbreak. At least a third of the consumers had accessed telehealth appointments and with over half admitting it was their first.

Lee Chiong Teofilo spoke of the availability of tools needed to offer telehealth efficiently and the rising interest from consumers to access it. However, a significant percentage of consumers expressed that they expected it to be challenging to find a sleep specialist through a telephone-based or online program.

55% of participants of the study were content with their sleeping patterns. Only 40% of the United States respondents were a bit satisfied with their sleep patterns. At the same time, those from India reported the highest number of somewhat happy respondents with their sleep patterns. Japan had the lowest number of respondents who were content with their sleep.

In the market, sleep concerns have led to the development of tools geared towards improving sleep health. Some of these tools include behavioral therapy software and wearable trackers.

In a nutshell, when appropriately used, sleep telehealth can empower patients to make better decisions, provide equitable health care, improve the quality of care and improve health outcomes.

Adapting to COVID-19 has become a necessity in the wake of its long-standing and far-reaching effects. Telehealth has been widely adopted in the health sector to cope with the ‘stay at home’ restrictions. Dermatologists have had to conform to technology to treat patients from the comfort of their homes.

Some of the benefits dermatologists have experienced from using telehealth include:

  • Virtual appointments offer flexibility.

Most patients are thrilled to enjoy the benefits of a consultation from the comfort of their homes. It is easier for a dermatologist to see and analyze the medication’s usefulness and effectiveness as opposed to a regular consultation where patients are likely to forget it at home.

  • Virtual appointments promote comfort and confidence.

Patients are comfortable interacting with a dermatologist from their place of comfort.

Patients tend to open up more and better account medical history when they are comfortable. There is arguably no better place to feel more comfortable than your own home.

How are dermatologists carrying out a virtual appointment?

Setting an appointment.

A telemedicine appointment may take three forms:

  • A telephone call
  • A video conference
  • Sending information to your dermatologist with details about your medical history, records, and the like.

Preparing for a virtual appointment

The dermatologist first ensures the patient’s insurance covers telemedicine visits. Patients are advised to confirm their home internet is stable and working. Devices that may be used during the consultation, such as computers and phones, should also be functioning correctly. It is essential to write a list of all the medications you have been using and have a photo if the camera quality isn’t excellent. The image can be later emailed to the dermatologist. To collect as much information as possible, it is essential to have a journal where you record a daily account of the disease’s effects to share with your dermatologist.

Examination during the telemedicine appointment

A nurse or dermatologist will inquire about the patient’s history, symptoms, medication, and how they are feeling. The dermatologist later goes into details about these questions to assess the situation. The patient may need to show the dermatologist the affected areas. Therefore, it is essential to wear something you can quickly disrobe.

Treating the ailment

After evaluating the symptoms and seeing the affected area, the dermatologist offers a diagnosis and a viable treatment option. This may include treatment or recommendations for asymptomatic conditions that affect the patient’s quality of life and comfort.

Your skin is an essential part of your overall health. Contact a certified dermatologist today to get a handle on your well-being. Ensure your insurance covers telemedicine appointments before consulting a dermatologist.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting restrictions, many have changed how we navigate and receive goods and services. The health sector has been dramatically affected and influenced by the pandemic with the adoption of technological improvements that have allowed many to access healthcare from the comfort of their homes.

Below are some of the ways the pandemic has aided technological developments in the health sector:

Telehealth

It is a broad spectrum of health products and services and devices that utilize remote communication to collect and spread data related to health matters. This includes using a monitor to participate in medical seminars, collect medical data and issue prescriptions.

Telemedicine

On the other hand, telemedicine is a more direct means of communication between a medical professional and a patient through audio or video. It may involve sending data from a home medical sensor to a clinician who virtually explains what the data means and offers recommendations.

Health devices

With the stay at home’ recommendation issued, consumers needed the means to monitor some of their bodily functions, such as blood pressure and heart activity, to stay healthy. As a result, health devices were improved and developed to carry out such operations.

Some of these health devices include:

  • Smartwatches that can read blood pressure
  • Touchless digital thermometers
  • Personal EKG devices 
  • Pulse oximeter

However, when utilizing health devices, it is essential to remember that the readings differ in accuracy and repeatability with medical-grade devices. The term ‘FDA cleared’ plastered on the product implies that the FDA has gone over the manufacturer’s data backing up the product’s functionalities. It doesn’t mean they tested or looked at the outcome.

It is always advisable to take your health device to a physical clinician and compare readings with a medical-grade device to understand the discrepancies in readings and even tweak it to have better lessons.

The fantastic ability of technology to keep up with the pandemic’s effects has helped us successfully manage our health and understand our bodies better, thereby increasing the overall lifespan duration.

It always takes time for new technology to be appreciated because it can be challenging for people to give up their preconceived notions of how something should be to see the potential of what something can be. Telemedicine falls into this category. While telemedicine technology has existed for quite some time, no one was willing to adopt it until the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and suddenly the idea of a telehealth visit was appealing. Far past being just convenient, telemedicine can change the way we view and experience healthcare and is likely to be here to stay at this point.


One big way telemedicine will change the world of medicine is within the specialty field. Most people first visit their primary care physician (who you may have to wait to see) and then get referred out to a specialist who requires their wait. At this point, you will have paid for two visits and waited up to a month, if not more. You can cut out the wait and the extra weight in a world where a primary care doctor can instantly connect you to a specialist who can make a diagnosis on the spot. Sure, in some specialties like cardiology, this will not work for, but telemedicine can be a valuable tool in fields like dermatology.


Also, telemedicine makes it possible to get above the standard of care without leaving your home. Anyone who suffers from a rare or unusual health concern knows that to get the best doctors, you have to be willing to travel, which means many people don’t get the best care. However, in the world of telemedicine, you (or your doctor) can quickly consult with noted specialists in a field or diagnosis and deliver you a much better standard of care. Changes like these are going to make telemedicine the new gold standard, not a temporary convenience.

Covid-19 has changed medicine’s face in this country, which can be seen with patients who have rheumatoid arthritis. Many patients with this auto-immune disease have been conducting medical visits by telehealth.
Telehealth cuts down on the chances of contracting the virus. Many patients, especially those with co-occurring disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, are afraid of sitting in crowded waiting rooms.

Doctors have been looking at new ways to accommodate those who don’t want to do in-person visits. Telehealth has become one of the top methods of communicating with your healthcare professional during the pandemic. Telemedicine is diagnosing and treating patients by way of telecommunications technology. This usually involves the phone and the Internet and allows doctors to do video conferences with patients. It can also include mobile health apps, wearable devices that collect data, online health education, and sharing health information between providers.

Before the pandemic, telehealth was mostly offered to patients in rural areas. Adopting telehealth as a practice was hindered by confidentiality concerns, licensing requirements, administrative costs, and insurers not covering telehealth visits. Federal health officials have been working since the pandemic to remove and alleviate some of these concerns, especially with licensing and insurance. Because of this, more rheumatologists are offering telehealth visits.

A Canadian survey found that 44 percent of adults with rheumatic diseases, half of which had rheumatoid arthritis, had attended a telehealth appointment during the pandemic. Another survey found about two-thirds of rheumatology patients had had an appointment via telehealth.

Telehealth for rheumatoid arthritis can be effective as in-person treatment. However, there are some caveats to this. It is most effective with those who have already been diagnosed and treated for the auto-immune disorder. Rheumatologists worry that not seeing the patient’s joints in person may affect their ability to analyze and treat. Seventy-one percent of the respondents in the Canadian survey were happy with their treatment. However, rheumatologists still feel that face-to-face visits are the most important in treating the disease.
If you need a new diagnosis for rheumatoid arthritis, it is essential to see the doctor face to face. However, if you are an established patient undergoing treatment, telehealth might be right for you. You’ll need some way to communicate with your doctor during the visit, and this can either be by phone, computer, or even tablet. Your doctor will usually email you a link. Be sure to check with your insurance company to make sure the visit will be covered. If your visit is not covered by your insurance you can visit Ourdoctor.com to see a Doctor. Insurance coverage is not required for this visit.
COVID-19 has forced us to delve into new ways to provide healthcare services to patients. Telemedicine has been around for ages but only recently became necessary due to the constant need for social distancing in 2020. Physicians find that they can now successfully rely on technology to communicate with their patients about non-emergency health issues and follow-ups.

However, telemedicine will not die off when Covid does. There are a few good reasons as to why telemedicine would and should survive after the pandemic. Below I will be sharing five insightful reasons as to why telemedicine is here to stay.

1. Patient Demand: Patients love the convenience of doing virtual consultations with their medical practitioners. It saves the doctor and the patient a lot more time and prevents them from using their energy to come in for a face to face consultation.

The American Journal of Managed Care conducted a study where they deduced that telemedicine, by far, has become one of the most preferred methods for patients to have medical consultations with their doctors.

2. Convenience and Flexibility: Patients love telemedicine because of the convenience and flexibility that it has to offer. Patients can consult with their doctors anywhere, from their home’s comfort to even in the office during lunch hour.

In turn, patients will save themselves a lot of time from traveling and taking sick leave from work. Telemedicine will also help doctors take their time with patients as they will not have a waiting room filled with walk-in patients waiting to be seen.

3. Technology Continues to Improve: Technology is growing and improving with each day, which only means that telemedicine is only going to get better and more convenient in the future, especially with regards to remote work.
This will result in more efficient clinical feedback from doctors, which will increase the overall functionality of the medical industry.

4. Insurance Reimbursement: Insurance companies will have to adapt to the changes that telemedicine has to offer, such as more virtual appointments and fewer physical consultations. Some of these changes require insurance companies to make reimbursements as well.
Healthcare organizations will have to cater to patients living in rural areas without access to primary healthcare or even just people who prefer to do things virtually.

5. Health Equity: Not everyone has access to good healthcare services. Individual patients who live in rural areas but have smartphones will also access healthcare services now by the tap of a button on their smartphones. Access to smartphones helps eliminate inequality amongst underprivileged people of color and other privileged people globally, as everyone will somewhat have access to virtual healthcare services now.
Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, one facet of healthcare has thrived. Telehealth has played a crucial role in reducing the spread of the virus, and the federal government, in conjunction with insurers, have provided financial coverage to facilitate this endeavor.
Other than the appeal of having a doctor’s appointment in the comfort of your home, telehealth has made healthcare more accessible and approachable for people who often feel stigmatized by the conventional medical system.

What are some of these groups and areas?

The LGBTQIA+ community
Did you know that one out of five gender-nonconforming people has reported being denied health care due to their gender identity? Sadly, the healthcare experience for most members of the LGBTQIA+ community borders discrimination and a lack of competence. 

Specialized women’s healthcare
Women’s healthcare has become increasingly synonymous with reproductive health. However, it is a reductive way to view it. There is a myriad of issues affecting women’s health that do not involve their reproductive organs, such as heart disease and mental health. 

Men’s mental health
The typical image of a healthy male depicted in society has led to a great inadequacy in addressing male mental health. A 2015 survey showed that 77% of the 1000 men that took the study suffered from stress, anxiety, and depression. The COVID-19 pandemic has further worsened the situation, with the numbers dangerously increasing. 

Rural and low-income communities
Telehealth has impacted groups of people in rural and low-income communities who have no means of access to the healthcare system. With the growth in telehealth, patients can now have access to quality healthcare follow up visits.

Even though telehealth isn’t here to replace traditional health care provision, it has undoubtedly offered increased access and coverage to a diverse group of people. It has created a safe and affordable variation of healthcare.
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