It has never been easier when it comes to the healthcare of the United States citizens, & the COVID-19 lockdown has simply made it quite risky to visit a doctor in person. This is where telehealth kicks in that lets patients get in touch with the doctors via the internet for health advice.
Although the concept is around for a few years, the sudden increase in using it has actually helped patients get different kinds of medical care. Once a hard-to-sell-concept, isn’t able to keep up with the public demand because of urgent surge in demand.
Telehealth, COVID-19, & Future of Telehealth
Amid COVID-19 pandemic, one of the best things is that you don’t have to leave your house to see a doctor. & to be true, for now, telehealth is the safest option you can opt for.
Urgent care centers all over the United States of America are encouraging their patients to use telemedicine instead of personally coming in.
The CEO of telemedicine provider Doctors on Demand, Hill Ferguson told Recode, “Our challenge has always been that we haven’t had wide-scale adoption because there just hasn’t been wide-scale awareness.” In the last month, we’ve had everyone from the president of the United States down to local governors to CEOs of health care companies all saying use telemedicine as a first line of defense.”
Getting in touch with health professionals via the internet & taking advice is quite intimidating for a lot of us. There are many things to take care of including new services, privacy concerns, & sorting out insurance issues. Let’s check out the things to know about telehealth:
1. Easier Than Visiting Doctor’s Office Personally
Well, this is the most important & primary factor while deciding to opt for telehealth as it’s quite easier to see a doctor online than visiting personally. Telemedicine is as simple as taking health professional’s advice by the patient on a video call. Obviously, there has to be a privacy & security layer that covers the patient’s health as confidential data.
For now, the Department of Health and Human Services has announced a few video platforms to help out with telemedicine advice such as Skype & FaceTime. Initially, Zoom was also a part of the initiative; however, the company is going through the rough phase of privacy & security. Few other telehealth consultation platforms are also there including VSee, Doxy, Amazon Chime, & thera-link.
It’s advisable to avoid Facebook & other social media platforms to receive telehealth.
2. Virtual Care Helping People Fight The Novel Coronavirus
The COVID-19 outbreak has made people stay home and not get out unless it’s extremely important. Many health institutions & hospitals have encouraged their patients to opt for virtual care for consultation before they try to visit the clinic itself. Majorly for people who think they have Novel Coronavirus symptoms, however, aren’t too sick to be admitted to the hospital.
Virtual care will help the patients not to come out of their houses & break the chain of COVID-19 by being home and get treated with telemedicine. If you aren’t out seeking health advice, the chances of you getting infected are lesser.
A professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Michael Barnett says, ““Doctors’ offices are going to be a very high-risk site for Covid transmission because people that come there will be sick, and doctors themselves are going to be important vectors of Covid transmission. We know that healthcare professionals are getting infected at very high rates, and people can shed the virus when they’re asymptomatic.”
3. Telehealth is More Versatile Than We Can Imagine
You just can’t imagine how deep the sea is if you yourself haven’t been there. In order to know how effective something is, you have to use it. Telehealth is kind of the same concept that has been denied by many people all over the world stating, it isn’t as impactful as it should be. & now, due to staying-at-home-situation, the same people are taking health advice from health professionals.
Obviously, telehealth limits the kind of care or treatment you are looking for. Such as general consultations, follow up appointments, mental health care, therapy sessions, & a few other treatments can be taken care via the internet. However, vaccinations, blood samples, & other same kind procedures will be done physically as they are supposed to.
The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health faculty, Barnett says, “There are definitely gray areas where telemedicine is not great, but there’s still a big chunk of medicine that could quite easily be taken out of the office and very conveniently delivered in some other medium. For physicians, a good 50 to 80 percent of what we do — depending on what you practice — really doesn’t need to happen in person.”
4. Telemedicine Concept Glitches Without Proper Internet Connection
Since we are talking about using the video service to get connected with the health professionals, the internet connection is the primary thing you need. So just imagine a situation where you need consultation, however, if the internet isn’t good, there is nothing you can do. In order to make video calls stable, the internet has to be of good quality.
Since we know how costly a mobile data plan can be if we talk about making video calls. So, the Federal Communications Commission is trying to loosen up the regulations related to data services. Users who have video calls supporting phones/smartphones, they might experience increased data plan on their handsets because of the COVID-19 crisis.
People who only have audio phones, “can evaluate beneficiaries” according to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Also Read: Best Video Conferencing Apps
5. Insurance Companies Making it Easier to Pay for Telehealth
One of the best things about bringing change is to get coordinated help from the supporting factors. Opting for telehealth & telemedicine is in favor of the people, however, people become hesitant because they think about “how will I bear the medical expenses in the COVID-19 crisis?” So, if you have any private health insurance, do check if your insurer has made adjustments to the policies to reimburse you for telehealth expenses.
Barnett states, “Insurers, in general, are not trying to add lots of new things that their patients can do to keep health care costs down. Providers do just fine in the status quo of deeper service medicine and having people come in person.”
Big players like Aetna & Blue Cross Blue Shield are all set to wave off copays for many patients until June for telemedicine expenses.
Checkout the free Covid-19 risk assessment.by the telehealth platform Roman.
Due to telehealth becoming the next thing in the medical field, one thing is for sure that in-person health will never be the same again.
The Doctors on Demand chief executive, Hill Ferguson told Recode, “For the first time ever, we’ve had massive levels of consumer awareness. “They’re trying things for the first time and they’re realizing, ‘Wow, I can actually do a lot more to treat my patients over video than I ever thought.”
I personally believe this initiative as one of the most effective decisions to break the COVID-19 chain. Additionally, this will transform the in-person (general consultation) health care to an online video call service.
Insurers like Aetna & Blue Cross blue Shield are setting examples of helping people out in this crisis & we need more examples like this to help patients.
Don’t forget to tell us your take on Telehealth being the next thing in the medical field.