Can Telemedicine Flatten the Curve of COVID-19?
These are unprecedented times, reminiscent of the days when the plague swept across Europe, affecting millions of people. As our own 21st century plague, COVID-19 sweeps across the world, telemedicine will be a driving force. Not only will it serve to allow us to have medical care for other problems, but it will be a means to flatten the curve of COVID—or lower the rate of infection while helping to keep all of us within easy reach of healthcare that can treat anything from chronic to acute illnesses.
Steve Davis, a professor in Morgantown, West Virginia’s health policy department believes that the main advantage of telehealth and telemedicine will be that “it can serve as a vehicle for achieving self-quarantine to mitigate viral spread while still enabling the treatment of health conditions.”
To date, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused nearly 213 thousand illnesses and almost 5000 deaths in the United States alone. It has affected 203 countries and has two international ships docked and unable to unload passengers.
Social distancing and proper handwashing and bathing, as well as care about group meetings and so on, will, of course, be the means to prevent the spread of the disease but telemedicine will be the vehicle by which many are seen and able to maintain distance from healthcare facilities that may cause nosocomial infections. In short, while protecting the patient and the physician and nurses, telemedicine can give proper care for illnesses that require physician intervention.
“Additionally, telehealth can be used to treat high-risk individuals from a distance to reduce their potential exposure to healthcare workers or other patients that may be infected,” Dr. Davis said.
In mid-March of this year, President Trump’s administration announced that CMS would begin paying clinical personnel to offer telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries across the United States. Multiple states have begun issuing orders to insurance companies requiring that the telemedicine costs be waived over the course of the current pandemic.
Telemedicine and telehealth are going to change the course of history –both during the pandemic as well as afterward.