The COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged the healthcare system to undergo metamorphosis by adapting virtual care via telehealth for outpatients and inpatients. At times, innovations are greatly driven by the necessity and demand of time. COVID-19 brought in the worst global health crisis and compelled the entire healthcare community to transform. Telehealth has leveled up its standard roles during pandemic times.
Telehealth for outpatients has encouraged healthcare institutions to use top quality voice and video to deliver services directly in their homes. Telehealth allows providers to stay connected with patients and continue with their practices. It also allowed the gathering of a global medical expert team for working hand in hand. With telehealth services, the frontline healthcare workers can remotely treat the patients that minimize their risk of exposure.
The healthcare organizations using telehealth services recorded 50 to 175 times more patients since the pandemic started.
The evolution of telehealth has raised high in the past few months and has a major impact in all the phases. Let us discuss how telehealth was before the pandemic and how it was and will be post-pandemic.
The Pre-COVID Phase
Telehealth was introduced long back but there were some hindrances in adoption until recent times. Traditionally, people would pay a visit to the doctor’s clinic, when they fell sick instead of an advanced video visit.
The main reason was limited coverage for virtual visits. Many doctors agreed on reimbursement uncertainty as a great obstacle towards the adoption of telehealth. As per the stren medicare rules, patients who lived in the rural areas had to travel to book an appointment and avail telehealth facility.
At the same time, some healthcare organizations were hesitant to adopt telehealth, as they didn’t rely on the system would have any positive impact. Many patients who availed the telehealth services were pleased but it could not attract a huge mass.
The Peak COVID Phase
During the COVID time, there was a transformation in the telehealth services. When the medical facilities and practices were shut down, the coverage of telehealth for outpatients expanded under the CARES Act. It was a turning point for virtual healthcare systems. The providers could collect medicare reimbursement for telehealth visits that were provided at home. Eventually, the health systems took a swift stride on the telehealth solutions by expanding the existing programs to make sure ongoing patient care.
Getting the best healthcare at home
Telehealth technology reached out to people at their homes that reduce the risk of exposure to coronavirus. It changed the way the providers treated the patients. Telehealth has become crucial to provide primary care for the common cold, headache without exposing patients to the coronavirus. Telehealth helped in conducting mental health appointments.
Telehealth for outpatients also helped the providers to monitor patients with chronic conditions like heart disease or diabetes. It also supported changes in a healthy lifestyle like weight management. Virtual visits have significantly reduced appointment cancellations and saved millions of dollars that are wasted for the same. It has been reported that 75% of telehealth patients experienced higher satisfaction.
Telehealthcare for outpatients
During the global pandemic, many hospitals and medical centers used telehealth for outpatient care as a way to prioritize the safety and well-being of patients who have been enrolled with earlier treatment or live in rural areas. The virtual care minimized the risk of exposure for the patients by providing the kind of treatment they deserve.
Patients can be treated via video conferencing by using mobile devices. The experts across the globe can be connected for virtual consultations. The family members of the patients can get involved with patient care, ask questions, and communicate virtually.
Other benefits of telehealth
The widespread acceptance of telehealth helped to strengthen the public health systems and enhance health equity. The people in rural areas who face a lack of transportation or have difficulty taking time off work can avail the best care with convenience. Additionally, telehealth assures providing quality healthcare, changed the progressive private healthcare sector, provides affordable, and convenient for a large number of patients.
Basically, it is the time for preparing for the future of telehealth. There is no certainty of when the pandemic will come to an end. Most of the experts have observed 2020 giving a makeover to the medicare world. Both, the patients and providers are familiar with the benefits of telehealth and likely to use it in the future.
Frost & Sullivan predicts the telehealth market will see a sevenfold growth rate by 2025.
If you as a provider has leveraged telehealth services during the pandemic, it is now time to move towards a more strategic approach. Make sure your telehealth solutions should cover the best quality audio and video to communicate and treat patients virtually, fulfill all the clinical needs ( integration with patient charts, medical devices, diagnostic tools), have a user-friendly experience that covers all patients, offer flexible options and capabilities that support your customized workflows, and enable HIPAA/PIPEDA compliance for data security of the patients.
Telehealth for outpatients and inpatients are a new norm. It is here to stay with its hybrid healthcare model that emphasizes treating patients where and how they prefer to be it home, on the go, or by making an in-person visit. Furthermore, it is highly effective in curtailing costs by giving more access to care with less manpower, which meets the end goal i.e. patient care.
About Net Health
Net Health is reuniting caregivers with their calling through cloud-based software.
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