The advent of the pandemic COVID-19 has disrupted the normal functioning of American lives, and the healthcare sector is no exception. Increasing emergency response costs for unnecessary cases are burdening the economy. Health care conversations have shifted from affordable care to measures of managing COVID-19, whose value will be borne by the government. The issue of the ballooning health care cost presents serious cost implications on the American economy amidst calls to increase funds to the COVID-19 funding package and the state-level emergency fund.
Health care researchers spread over the years have studied and implemented policies to reduce the price tag associated with non-urgent issues in the emergency departments. For several years people have failed to embrace self-care directives. Instead, they overcrowd the emergency centers delaying attention for deserving cases.
Statistics from previous pandemics show that the percentages of people that visited the emergency centers due to unnecessary reasons increased. For example, 87% and 90% of the H1N1 emergency visits in 2008 and 2009 respectively were avoidable. The government lost up to $2,032 in response to unnecessary cases that can be addressed less expensively.
The current pandemic has elicited more fear amongst Americans due to uncertainty on the criteria to determine emergency cases of COVID-19 symptoms. More people will probably visit the emergency department even when they can recover through self-care.
One plausible solution that can reduce the hefty emergency treatment cost as Americans grapple with novella coronavirus is virtual care. Medical experts recommend triage through telemedicine to determine the risk of diseases and consequently avoid overstraining on healthcare resources, especially during pandemics. Companies such as Ourdoctor have developed platforms for triage. Individuals exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 can fill the Ourdoctor online assessment to determine whether they need further medical care. The platform connects them to a pool of a U.S licensed healthcare provider and reports any suspected cases to necessary authorities. Telemedicine is an essential triage tool to filter patients who do not need emergency treatment during the current COVID-19 pandemic.