During the onset of the global Covid-19 pandemic, most world economies shut down. With total lockdowns in place and people staying under quarantine in homes, telehealth gained immense popularity as a means of accessing medical care. It allowed people to see a doctor without having to leave home. Telehealth also brought convenience, allowing people to access healthcare remotely without incurring costly transportation costs to the hospitals.

As much as telehealth is convenient, fast, and a readily available means of securing health care services, the amount of money that medical centers charge has raised eyebrows and many questions among patients. Concerns about the unexpected bills to cover appointments and follow-ups out-of-pocket (even if you have insurance) have been on the rise. The big question is, why is telehealth becoming expensive by the day?

The Happenings

Most insurance companies are rolling back on the covers they provided patients when the pandemic was at its peak. With current uncertainties, insurance providers keep on changing policies, even doing away with some coverage altogether. As a move to cover their interests, medical care providers have to charge extra (regardless of insurance status) as they aren’t sure of reimbursements from insurance carriers.

Most hospitals are also billing the cost of the virtual appointment and teleconferencing, which is typically not part of the insurance coverage. Generally, the high price of telehealth appointments may result from:

  • The time the doctor takes to complete an assignment, with longer works attracting a higher charge
  • The complexity of the case, where complex issues may need extra attention and consequently, more charges
  • The amount of data the doctor reviews, in which a high workload could mean more time explaining the results and more money to pay

Mitigating the High Telehealth Costs

While the high bills may be unavoidable, you can quickly get ahead of the problem by figuring out what services your insurance provider is willing to cover and whether your preferred medical provider accepts insurance coverage for the same services. Check whether your insurance carrier is willing to pay for your virtual visits and all the resulting costs. With this information, you can easily align your visit with a medical center that fully accepts your insurance coverage, and you’ll avoid the extra bills.

The Solution

If you don’t have insurance, or you do, and the cost of telemedicine is so high, the benefits aren’t worth it. Ourdoctor telehealth is an excellent option for those who don’t or do have insurance. You Can have access to telehealth for an affordable price 24/7. To learn more about Ourdoctor telehealth services, visit Ourdoctor.com

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:

Video visits

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.

 Telehealth pharmacy

Pharmacists can use telehealth to distribute medications to their patients remotely. It can help address the shortage of medicines, especially in remote areas.

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically accelerated the growth of telehealth and prescheduling technologies. Patients no longer have to wait for hours in hospital waiting rooms to see a doctor. And how is this going to impact patients and providers?

According to Dr. David Berg, a co-founder, and chairman of the board of Redirect Health, healthcare facilities should minimize unnecessary inconveniences like wait time for a better healthcare experience. Here is Dr. Berg explanation in an in-depth interview with Healthcare IT News:

How can physicians reduce long patient wait times using prescheduling tools?

The essence of prescheduling is to save time used in filling out forms in the doctor’s office. Using prescheduling tools, doctors can gather patients’ records before they even get in the hospital. According to DR. Berg, when doctors get your medical history information, they are more prepared for treatment when you arrive.

With prescheduling, people can fill out the form at their pace without impacting waiting room time.

Negative impacts of high waiting room times and its effects on patient care

Even when adhering to COVID-19 precautions, people are still afraid of enclosed places that are crowded. As Berg explains, two groups are used to analyze the negative impact of high waiting room times. The first group comprises the younger and healthier people who might not see the doctor because of their busy life. The second group includes people with chronic health issues who don’t want to spend unnecessary time waiting. High waiting room times discourage these groups from seeking care.

Impacts of telehealth on in-person doctor visits and its effects on waiting times

Telehealth reduces waiting times, and patients are put on a schedule that is easier for doctors to manage during virtual appointments. On the other hand, patients will less often take time to have in-person doctor visits. And when they go, they would like to take care of everything, even things that are not yet problems. With telehealth, people can spend lesser time in appointments.

The future of the waiting room

Dr. Berg believes that the waiting rooms will get smaller as the parking lots get busier if people don’t fill out forms at home. As much as the benefits of telehealth are evident, it’s not an easy transition to the highly regulated healthcare industry. Also, physicians are required to hold a license in the state of their operation.

However, telemedicine’s future is bright if a bipartisan federal telehealth law eliminates licensing in individual states.

Labeled as the silver lining during the COVID pandemic, telemedicine has grown exponentially over the past year. At first, most people were terrified to visit their doctor’s offices, which quickly turned telemedicine from a fringe service to a significant mode of care delivery.

For some Medicare beneficiaries and older adults, telemedicine has been a lifeline during the pandemic. With the announcement on March 17, 2020, that Medicare and Medicaid centers would be refunded for any telemedicine services to any patient, the beneficiaries of this care increased by thousands every week to about 1.7 million by April.

Here are some evolving trends observed among seniors who used telemedicine during the pandemic

  1. A significant decrease in the use of telemedicine after peaking in May 2020

Telemedicine undoubtedly plays a crucial role in health care and is likely to account for a modest share of visits under current medical practices, payment policies, and technologies. As we advance, the future use of telemedicine depends on how much clinicians are refunded for offering this type of care. Most health practitioners are bound to be more hesitant to adopt telemedicine if they aren’t sure how to be reimbursed for providing this kind of care.

2. 1 out of 10 Medicare beneficiaries use telephone calls only to access telemedicine

Reimbursing clinicians for telephone-only calls have continued to raise concerns over the quality of care provided. It is worth noting that if telephone-only calls are eliminated, 1 out of 10 Medicare beneficiaries will no longer benefit from telemedicine. Additionally, in rural areas, the lack of technology and broadband access has significantly affected access to telemedicine. For beneficiaries who don’t have access to video visits, research is still needed to find means to increase their access to telemedicine via video visits.

3. The use of telemedicine doesn’t vary by race and ethnicity

One of the undeniable benefits of telemedicine is its ability to cut across race and ethnicity. Data shows no significant differences in the number of people using telemedicine-based on race and ethnicity.

In conclusion, despite the focus on the rapid growth of telemedicine, its changing patterns of use have been severely overlooked. It is essential to track the evolving use of telemedicine and how Americans can better access this form of health care to ensure health care disparities do not increase.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Family Planning has reduced services by 50%

As the pandemic continues throughout the globe, women must cope with reduced access to reproductive health specialist appointments. Bayer Philippines launched an innovative public service campaign centered on women’s reproductive help to bring information to those who might need it.

The pandemic has led to an increased reliance on telemedicine. One study showed that because of COVID-19, there had been a 6,000% increase in telemedicine. Approximately ten years of telemedicine advances in technology happened in a year. Unfortunately, it took a pandemic to show that women could get adequate reproductive healthcare through telemedicine.

One of the more lasting shifts in telemedicine comes from the world of direct-to-consumer (D2C) healthcare delivery. The use of smartphone apps to deliver specific help, such as getting birth control, removes the need for a referral.

One of the needs not yet addressed is about 15% of women who have regular cell phones without smartphone apps. Of course, the D2C market would need to discover a way to reach all women who need reproductive healthcare.

Reproductive health through digital access

The use of telemedicine across the women’s health spectrum increased because of the pandemic. Fortunately, much of the professional world had already refined teleconferencing, which meant medicine could use the same digital means for delivering medical.

The pandemic influenced OBGYN care. In one report, the vast majority of OBGYNs had incorporated telemedicine into their practices. Yet, most saw significant issues when implementing telemedicine care. Around six in ten OBGYNs are at least a little worried their patients won’t receive adequate care for serious procedures.

Like other medical specialties, women’s reproductive health will need to change healthcare delivery methods to meet patient needs. This is a move the CDC recommends.

A telemedicine platform may help make significant progress for millions of patients who require mental health or substance misuse treatment since only approximately 10% of federally certified health facilities have clinical psychologists or psychiatrists on staff.


Recent research that examined some rural FQHCs found that using a tele-mental health platform, which connects the clinics to experts, benefited patients with bipolar illness or post-traumatic stress disorder.
According to a press release issued by the University of Michigan, the study findings indicate that if you provide access to high-quality treatment for disadvantaged patients, they may improve their quality of life.


Researchers from several health systems and the Veterans Affairs conducted five-year research sponsored by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to see if remote treatment had the same value for psychiatric services in 24 rural FQHCs in Washington, Michigan, and Arkansas.


The research published in JAMA Psychiatry assessed two models of care: patients directly have face-to-face encounters with specialists at the state medical school through telemedicine, and the other in which a primary care clinic that works alongside FQHCs incorporates telehealth into its services. This data suggests that a large majority of the 1,004 patients treated discovered that they had far better access to healthcare, better mental health, and better quality of life. Both groups saw the same gains.


Although research shows that telehealth may benefit patients and FQHC patients, it is essential to consider the importance of a remote telehealth platform located inside an FQHC, which mainly serves the underprivileged population.


Medicare and Medicaid data claims about 1,400 FQHCs and comparable health clinics servicing about 25 million people in the US.


FQHCs use telehealth as a means of contact with their patient while also providing virtual access to the necessary services. Telehealth has benefited from federal and state emergency measures designed to increase access, coverage, and lawmakers in both the Senate and the House have shown an interest in further implementing such policies after the crisis.

Virtual health visits are growing steadily among veterans as patients and providers take advantage of the more streamlined, less expensive telehealth option. Veterans, in particular, are benefitting from telehealth services.
Telehealth is a tool designed to make healthcare more efficient and convenient. Virtual visits can give veterans access to a better healthcare experience, especially those with mobility challenges or those living in remote or rural locations.
Telehealth is a service that connects providers and patients virtually via a computer, smartphone, or tablet. Veterans can have virtual online doctors’ visits, saving time, paperwork, and money for everyone involved.


Veterans new to telehealth can request a consult with their provider or for an a faster telehealth experience to help walk them through the process and answer any questions that come up.
Virtual health visits are similar to how other video calls work, such as a video call with family, but there are some differences.


While virtual visits are becoming more common, it is not likely that a patient’s care would end up being 100% online. Most health providers will want to see veterans in person on a fairly regular basis. This gives providers the ability to oversee the patient’s progress over time and keep tabs on any new symptoms.


Usually, with each case, Veteran Affairs will require routine imaging and lab work, reviewed during the virtual visit. Additionally, a veteran experiencing new symptoms, other additional medical problems, or who is concerned with relapse issues should probably be seen in person.


While some veterans are uncomfortable with virtual visits and prefer to be seen in person by a physician, they still recommend asking about the possibilities of virtual healthcare. This way, they can create a long-term healthcare strategy that will work best for their abilities and needs.


Veterans Can visit Ourdoctor.com to schedule a telehealth visit today!

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.

Takeaway

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.

The Coronavirus pandemic has led to a massive boom in Telehealth. And it is not going away anytime soon. As it turns out, virtual health care is convenient and both time and cost-effective, especially for employers.


According to the Lively 2019 Wellness and Wealth report, 69% of businesses with 50 or more employees offered telemedical benefits in 2019. During this time before COVID, about 11% of consumers were using Telehealth.


All of this changed when COVID hit. By the end of March 2020, telehealth visits increased by 154% compared to the year prior. These number declined a bit during the following months, but demand for telemedicine services have remained much higher than before the pandemic.


The result of the increase in Telehealth has critical implications for employers. Telemedicine attracts patients seeking care for acute, low-intensity, and many times self-limited issues. In interviews of benefits executives conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), several participants noted that telemedicine could lower their firm’s total health care costs.


Virtual visits often have a lower co-pay than in-person appointments, which means telemedicine saves both time and money. Telemedicine patients are usually older and female, according to EBRI research. Most telemedicine users had an average of less than three virtual doctor visits, showing that people often use telemedicine for acute needs or chronic conditions. The research also indicates that patients preferred to use telemedicine for respiratory or mental health issues.


It might seem easy to brush off telemedicine as an emergency measure that will end when the pandemic does. But new research shows that it is predicted that the telehealth market is expected to reach $185 billion by 2026.
Telemedicine is simple, easy, time-saving, and cost practical, meaning it is here to stay and will grow in popularity with patients and providers.

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.

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