June 12, 2021
According to a survey taken by Medical Group Management Association, as many as 97% of healthcare providers now provide patient care via telehealth as a result of the pandemic. And it comes as no surprise considering that, to-date globally, there have been some 7.1 million COVID-19 cases and more than 400,000 related deaths. As a result, those in the most disrupted industries have sought out business-supporting technologies, solutions, and innovations. More specifically, healthcare professionals are relying on virtual tools like telehealth to provide patient care.
Telehealth isn’t new, but the sudden usage surge and adoption certainly is. Here are some of the reasons why telehealth has been a top COVID-related response for providers, and why we expect usage to continue climbing even after the pandemic has passed.
Doctors, nurses, medical assistants, and office administrators are at an increasingly high risk of contracting illnesses – especially during a pandemic. This added risk, and the fear thereof, has fueled a remote-care rush among providers. But beyond the pandemic, the benefits of telehealth are undeniable. When you reduce contact, you reduce transmission, and when you reduce transmission you gain a healthier practice as a whole. A healthy, low-risk practice is good for everyone but it’s particularly vital for high-risk patients such as the elderly and immunocompromised.
Through telehealth, patients are able to skip the often burdensome travel requirement that comes with traditional care. On the physician end, doctors who need to split their time between in-office care and hospital, emergency or surgical care, are now more equipped to do so. Connecting with patients remotely gifts doctors and physicians with scheduling flexibility.
Traditionally, space and time constraints have limited patient-physician relationships to a mutually shared location. Telehealth allows physicians to treat patients who would normally be considered “out of reach.” This ability helps practices balance out an increasing demand for care, especially for those in remote areas, and gives patients greater provider options.
While medical centers in hard-hit cities have become overwhelmed due to the outbreak, telehealth enables doctors to keep low-risk patients at home, saving bed space and medical supplies for patients in critical condition. Some centers are also using digital channels for communication between doctors and admitted patients in order to minimize contact and risk of transmission. This method also helps medical centers preserve valuable equipment such as masks, gloves, goggles, and high-demand personal protective equipment.
According to a report from Saint Barnabas Medical Center, COVID-19 may completely change the working dynamics for radiologists. Many radiologists are already working from home, reviewing scans via digital channels, and some say that the radiology department will not be the same after the pandemic ends. These remote channels have also enabled radiologists to connect with each other to discuss cases and results.
With the World Health Organization (WHO) anticipating a COVID causing increase in mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and stress, psychiatrists and psychotherapists are moving sessions to online channels as well. According to the American Psychiatric Association, virtual sessions benefit the provider and patient – aiding to the privacy that has always been of high concern for psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and their patients.
Many providers are already benefiting from telehealth services, which is not only a secure but also a cost-effective way to schedule visits. With such proven benefits, telehealth is here to stay as a modern standard in our healthcare system.