The Covid 19 pandemic has made some unprecedented changes in our work and our world. In fact, with the arrival of this most recent pandemic, you could say that telehealth is coming of age. It is now becoming the most lauded new method of attaining healthcare.
Today, given the lack of enough nursing personnel and the physician shortage, ensuring the health of our doctors and nurses, EMT’s and other healthcare providers is critical. What that means is that virtual care is no longer optional, it’s the means to quarantine our most important resource during a pandemic– our physicians–keeping them safe while allowing them to provide care for patients at the same time.
Nearly overnight Telehealth is seeing a massive upsurge in interest. Telehealth providers are seeing an upswing in the demand for their services like nothing they have seen before. What was deemed as barriers to the use of telehealth are dropping dramatically and consumer awareness, as well as insurance acceptance, is rising by leaps and bounds.
In order to seek ways to halt the progression of our current COVID 19 pandemic and prevent the deaths that will accompany that spread, the Centers for MEDICARE and MEDICAID services changed the requirements necessary to access telehealth as well as the restrictions that were in place on reimbursing for the use of telehealth.
How will the use of Telehealth provide for better coverage and fewer problems during this pandemic? Telehealth will change the face of medicine during this pandemic. Here’s how.
Allow us to use our resources more wisely.
Rather than requiring dozens of gloves, facemasks, goggles, and other things, telehealth isn’t a face to face thing so it will help us to hang on to the resources that we have and use them more wisely. Not only physical resources will be able to be managed better.
The problem that arises during a pandemic, particularly one as deadly as COVID-19—is that there is a demand on the medical system that is nothing short of overwhelming. Physicians are unable to meet the need for care that is going to be forthcoming. According to Roy Schoenberg, MD, MPH, president and CEO of telehealth company Amwell, based in Boston MASS, “We are going to get to the point where the supply does not meet the demand.”
Cities around the country such as New York and Baltimore are already seeing this happen.
“One of the beauties of telehealth is that we can use it to do load balancing,” says Schoenberg. “We can take a supply of [clinicians] from one side of the country, and almost like Star Trek, beam them through this technology to patients in a place that is overwhelmed.”
Allow us to Quarantine healthcare providers and still have them treat patients.
In many cases, we can see patients who have flu or something a bit less deadly than COVID-19 without having them in an office. That means that we can prevent our healthcare workers, one of the most valuable resources now, to carry on providing care and not expose them to other types of illnesses.
Allow those who have been exposed to COVID-19 still provide healthcare without compromising patient’s health.
Many of our healthcare workers are being and have been exposed to COVID before we knew what it was and before they knew what their patients had. That means that they legitimately cannot treat people who are—for example—immunocompromised. Telehealth precludes that kind of a problem by allowing them to see and treat patients without being in close proximity to them. This safeguards the patient without preventing the physician or nurse from offering care.
Telehealth is not only going to protect the healthcare providers but also the patients who rely on our healthcare system. It will, particularly during this pandemic, change the way that we do business and change the way that we offer healthcare.
In short, telemedicine has the means to provide quality care and save lives even during a pandemic such as that with which we are currently faced. Embracing that kind of benefit just makes good sense.