Telemedicine: The Exciting Solution For Patient And Doctors During COVID-19 And Beyond
Telemedicine is now becoming a standard in the US today. This model has been changing rapidly, most notably now that COVID-19 is affecting many people.
As the COVID-19 virus creates chaos in the healthcare system, telemedicine is found to help healthcare provider organizations and caregivers to respond to the needs of the Americans who have contracted the virus. Telemedicine also assists some clients who need to touch base with their doctors on the status of their health.
With these things said, telemedicine is making a positive contribution to healthcare during the pandemic. However, telehealth technologies have certain limitations when treating patients during this time.
Further, there is a chance that telemedicine may be a requirement for hospitals if it is used well. Hospitals are currently learning to adopt telemedicine.
Where Does Telemedicine Stand in Healthcare?
According to David P. Ryan, General Manager, Health and Life Sciences Sector at Intel, five to seven years from now, telemedicine will flip from eclectic proof of concepts and pilots and become the new standard for primary care. He added that instead of the “first touch” being an urgent care clinic or emergency room, he envisioned that in time, it would be an app, an email, or a video call.
For many years of experimenting with telemedicine, it proves that this one is cost-effective. However, Ryan said that the US giant obstacle is the reimbursement rules. These began to change since 2016.
Telemedicine is increasing gradually because reimbursement has changed for everybody. Patients who used telemedicine have found the benefits – up to 75% fewer readmissions and up to $150,000 savings a year. These are even moving forward on recommendations to reimburse providers when they conduct a “virtual check-in” with a patient or teach homebound patients to use the remote-monitoring gear.
According to the Swedish market research firm Berg Insight, the remote patient monitoring market saw a 44 percent jump in remotely monitored patients in 2016. They estimated that by 2021, the number of remotely monitored patients would reach 50.2 million. Half of those might have their own home medical monitoring devices to use.
Telemedicine seems complex, though, because of the monitoring systems interlinked. This needs to provide telemetry for a broader range of disease states. Sensors should be working well as the data flow that will come from these is very valuable and will improve important insights for community health.
To make this work, the nature of medical and consumer-grade solutions needs to end. The future of telemedicine needs to look forward to something more secure, where providers and remote care companies can deploy.
Basically, telemedicine needs interoperability, data integration, health information exchange, and technology innovation to do this successfully. Aside from that, hospitals that spend on remote care should not only collect data but also become interactive with the patient, understand their behaviors, and remind them of the medication and condition management of their medical conditions.
Since it’s just the beginning of telemedicine, remote health has been fueled by a cellphone app or social media platform. If the hospitals and medical clinics and doctors offices want to add a wide-scale deployment, a much more software-defined and intelligent technology platform should be added.
How Telemedicine Helps in the COVID-19 Crisis
Telemedicine is emerging as an effective solution during this global pandemic. It helps to bridge the gap between people, their doctors, and health systems. It enables everyone, especially asymptomatic patients, to stay at home and communicate with physicians through virtual channels. This helps to reduce the spread of the virus to huge populations and the frontiers.
Moreover, telemedicine is also suggested to be used for non-urgent communication to reduce the pressures facing clinics and emergency rooms. By deploying telemedicine, patients can continue to receive care at home, which minimizes the risk of contracting the virus.
Dr. Daniel Sullivan, an internal medicine physician of Cleveland Clinic, has been conducting telemedicine for almost two years. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the number of virtual patients has increased from two to more than 50 weekly. In recent weeks, virtual visits from Cleveland Clinic’s Express have increased 26 times.
Dr. Sullivan shared his successful telemedicine experience with an 87-year-old patient through Express Care Online. The medications and current status of his breathing, eating, and walking was discussed online. Even the schedule for laboratory work was all done in 15 minutes. So, the only time the patient would come to the office is to have his blood test and chest X-ray be done.
As you can see, telemedicine is an effective supplement to office-based care. Further, the COVID-19 pandemic also proves that telemedicine has helped many primary care patients to meet their care needs.
Telemedicine is reducing the burden on hospitals as most doctors now spend time screening patients through this. Though there are still limitations on using telemedicine for primary care, many benefits are also seen to this.
For example, something as basic as using the online waiting room instead of piling up close to one another proves to be a great help in flattening the curve and lessening the overall burden in hospitals.