Telemedicine and Coronavirus: What We Have Learned

The age of Coronavirus has made people more concerned about going into medical clinics without a serious reason. Telemedicine has been improving over the last few years as streaming speeds have gotten faster. The adoption of this technology by those before the outbreak did so due to convenience. Not waiting in the doctor’s office with potentially sick people was appealing. In today’s world, it is essential to flatten the curve. Pediatricians in the Florida area had curbside appointments which still require a face to face interaction.

Doctor’s that once had never offered telehealth services are expanding their offerings. Virtual doctor visits will continue to be popular after many patients see the quality of care that they receive. Talking to a doctor face to face on a laptop or iPad allows a person to attend work and avoid traffic. The bonus of staying socially distant has created a massive growth in the use of virtual doctor visits. Many medical providers like Avance Care in Raleigh offer their telehealth services through the Zoom app. Remote workers around the world have used this for team meetings/calls. Zoom is now used to socialize, meet with doctors, or simply see a loved one you cannot visit due to the pandemic.

Why was Telemedicine Not Adopted Widely Earlier?

The previous resistance to this technology was due to the perceived need for a physical encounter. Many patients might worry about lack of personal relationship with the doctor. Most people go to the same doctor until they have a reason not to go back. A relationship is built up over time which can be difficult to replace. Your primary care physician knows a patient’s health history thoroughly. 

March 30th marked a huge development with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) waived certain restrictions during this pandemic. CMS is the largest healthcare payer in the entire country. Payment for a virtual appointment differed vastly from a physical visit. During the COVID-19 pandemic, both types of visits are going to be billed as identical. 

Within hospitals, it is common in emergency rooms to utilize telehealth. This makes the process more efficient for healthcare professionals. Rather than having to change out of a gown, gloves, and mask after each interaction with a patient the robots can do rounds. Some hospitals have mobile iPads attached to a robot or other mobile devices. These robots differ but the fact they travel room to room alone is nothing short of amazing. There are even stethoscope attachments that can allow the doctor to hear the heart, heart rate, breathing, and lungs of a patient. Even a decade ago, this technology would have seemed out of reach or simply not viable for many healthcare organizations. 

The Older Generation are Utilizing Telehealth Services

Older people that once would have never considered telemedicine have been happily adopting telemedicine. Streaming and virtual meetings have skyrocketed with even church services being streamed. People that are older or immune-compromised are at a higher risk of catching Coronavirus. The telemedicine industry is only going to grow after life finally returns to normal. Plenty of healthcare professionals have offered telemedicine services that haven’t been utilized. Meg Barron, who is the vice president of Digital Health Strategy at the American Medical Association noted huge increases in services being utilized. She spoke at a summit remarking that the Cleveland Medical Clinic saw their appointments go up 15 times. This was in late March so this number could have skyrocketed in the last few weeks of the pandemic. 

What Does the Future Hold?

The future will surely yield more utilization of telehealth services due to convenience. Avoiding traffic during certain times in cities like Los Angeles can save you hours in commuting. Quality of care might be perceived to go down when compared to traditional methods. The numbers do not support this claim in the slightest. There has not been an uptick in deaths caused by the change in cases not related to Coronavirus. The CMS might see the benefit of lessening restrictions on billing. In turn, this will make telehealth as profitable for doctors and convenient for patients. 

These unprecedented times have expanded telehealth as we know it. The future of healthcare is here with it being the best option for your health to adopt it!