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IMPORTANCE OF TELEHEALTH DURING COVID-19 EMERGENCY

-Sujin Jekash Simson,

 

Coronavirus is changing the USA forever and even more so with telemedicine. As we are grappling with the Coronavirus pandemic, it has become a moment for telehealth used for the past several years to deal with the virus. The social distancing machine, Telehealth is witnessing a surge in popularity and use. Interestingly, it is addressing multifarious health concerns of the patients.

 

In the wake of social distancing, healthcare organizations are striving to reduce the exposure from person-to-person contact and taking efforts to minimize the overburdening hospitals. Solutions are being made available to enable secure and seamless connectivity for healthcare providers delivering virtual care to patients in their homes.

 

Following are some important aspects you must know about telehealth to make a good use of the opportunities offered by the modern healthcare.

 

Take Virtual Visit to a Doctor

As virtual consultations require privacy and security, there are regulations in place for patients’ protection which are changing in the face of Covid-19 crisis. Thus, a patient can conveniently communicate with the doctor through a video call.

 

The Department of Health and Human Services has announced approval for the video platforms acceptable for the healthcare providers. Telecommunication applications that specialize in providing video chat and voice calls like FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom are given temporary approval.

 

In the time of emergency one can also check out telemedicine platforms, like Doctor on DemandTeladoc, and Amwell. But, before opting any of it, one must consider the insurer’s website as insurance companies may only cover or offer discounts for certain platforms. Most importantly, while choosing the platform you should rectify whether the it is HIPAA compliant and offers an end-to-end encryption.

 

A Frontline Weapon to Combat the Coronavirus

Many medical organizations are encouraging patients to embrace the virtual urgent care for a consultation before heading to the clinic. The platform has specifically become important for patients who have mild Covid-19 symptoms but do not require hospitalization.

 

Virtual consultations allow doctors to triage patients without the risk of spreading the virus, thereby providing a quicker treatment for their symptoms.

 

We all are quite aware of the fact that health care professionals are getting infected at very high rates, and the people are spreading the virus even when they’re asymptomatic.

 

Thus, even if you feel healthy and experience no symptoms, you must reconsider the visit. Many routine health care needs can be addressed using telemedicine tools. Staying home is still the best way to do your part preventing yourself and the world altogether against the pandemic.

 

Insurance Companies are Making Telehealth Widely Accessible

If a patient has already availed a private health insurance, they should check to see whether their insurer has made adjustments to their policies for reimbursement for telehealth. The US health insurance companies like Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield are providing waivers in copays for telemedicine for many registered members until June.

 

Additionally, government health care programs are opening up more to telehealth solutions. For instance, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is now reimbursing Medicare patients for telehealth services throughout the country which was previously limited to rural areas.

 

Notably, even those without any health care coverage can now access telehealth services. Some community health clinics have transitioned to telehealth services, whereas the Department of Health and Human Services has funded $100 million to over thousand health centers to promote telehealth.

 

Moreover, for mental and behavioral health care services, firms such as Open Path Psychotherapy Collective are providing in-pocket counseling sessions.

 

Telehealth is more Versatile than Ever

Telemedicine serves certain types of medical care, including general consultations with doctors, mental health care, follow-up appointments, and even some specialties, like dermatology. Doctors can also fairly provide the prescriptions via the platform. In regards to tackle the Covid-19 crisis, the US government is lifting some restrictions for prescribing controlled substances via telemedicine.

 

Despite all the facilities and advantages of telemedicine, certain tasks like vaccinations and taking samples need to be done physically. 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 through mediums like Telehealth. According to experts, a good 50 to 80 percent of what we do depending on what you practice really doesn’t need to happen in person.

 

With right equipment’s in place, a surprising number of health measurements can be done remotely. There is a wide array of medical devices out there that can help you do anything from checking your blood pressure to measuring your blood oxygen levels. Some wearables, like the Apple Watch, can even produce electrocardiograms. In a telehealth scenario, these tools can provide your doctor with valuable information about your health.