Utilizing Telehealth as a Pandemic Response Tool
Lives across the world are shifting right now due to COVID-19. Many individuals are finding themselves ill, without a job, working from home, or going through another change in light of this pandemic. Healthcare professionals stand at the front lines to not only find ways to cure this virus, but to treat the sick and halt the spread. When it comes to slowing the speed of contraction, technology aids in not only prevention but also in lessening the strain on our healthcare system. Telehealth is a solution that has taken center stage when it comes to treating patients remotely.
Virtual visits provide physicians and care teams with a means to connect and treat patients from afar while leaving room for more critically ill patients at care facilities. This technological tool allows for patients with chronic diseases to still receive treatment while limiting their exposure risk.
During a pandemic, telehealth can be used as a way for healthcare providers to monitor acute patient symptoms and keep patients out of hospitals. AmWell noted that in the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, an uptick of 11% in telehealth services occurred. This limits the possibility of a healthcare collapse, limits exposure for healthcare professionals who are at high risk of contracting a virus themselves, and reduces the amount of individuals in one area.
Barriers exist at the federal and state level when it comes to allowing all individuals to access telehealth services. While during some circumstances, like the pandemic COVID-19, Medicare recipients are able to access telehealth services, there are still restrictions when it comes to those receiving Medicaid. We highlight this to cover that during a pandemic, the government may expand services to cover a wider array of individuals. For individuals on private insurance plans, it’ll be up to your insurance company and your physician’s office as to whether these services are not only available but also covered.
When it comes to services that telehealth can provide for providers during a pandemic, the toolbox is full. Providers can utilize telehealth for screening and triage purposes. During screenings, physicians conduct initial virtual screenings to identity cases and control the spread of disease. Telehealth services also typically offer secure messaging for patients to directly send correspondence to their provider or care team with questions or concerns regarding their visit or the illness they are facing. From there, a provider decides on what the next point of care needs to be, if any at all.
During the COVID-19 outbreak states like Washington are utilizing telehealth services as the first point of contact when it comes to patient care. When they establish that a patient is showing signs of the coronavirus, they are then directed to a place to receive proper testing in a way that minimizes risk for other patients and healthcare providers.
When a pandemic such as COVID-19 hits a nation, it’s important to have tools and create a readiness plan. Telehealth empowers and strengthens that plan by enabling your services to continue to patients outside of your office. Virtual visits help providers manage an influx of patient visits, give patients the flexibility to remain in the comfort of their home, and help minimize the exposure risk.
For practices that do not have a telehealth solution implemented, we encourage you to look into a solution that would fit your practice’s workflow and needs. The current pandemic is not something any of us could have prepared for, however, your practice can plan and begin to treat patients remotely through telehealth virtual visits.
Are you looking for a virtual video visit solution for your practice? MicroMD Virtual Video Visits powered by Medpod is available as an integrated solution or as a standalone service. Visit us today at micromd.com or call us at 800.624.8832.
About the author,
Savanna is the Marketing Communication Specialist at Henry Schein MicroMD. She schedules emails to clients, prospects, and VARs, manages social media accounts, performs research, writes blogs and eBooks, and much more while helping to support the simple yet powerful MicroMD solutions.
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