The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has led to several nations issuing lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus. And in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, telemedicine has become a solution to limit hospital visits in order to contain its spread and keep both patients and healthcare staff safe.
Telemedicine is the use of digital tools to deliver medical information to patients. One of the most important advantages of telemedicine is that it strengthens the connection between doctor and patient. It allows both parties to communicate to each other through electronic media.
This use and importance of telehealth services amid the current COVID-19 pandemic has also led to this modern form of care gaining greater public visibility and wider acceptance, establishing new norms for the healthcare sector, both now and in the future.
Here are some of the ways telemedicine is positively impacting the healthcare industry during the coronavirus crisis.
Telehealth Use Cases
First, before we go into detail about the benefits of telehealth services during the COVID-19 health crisis, let’s discuss why these services were still so vital before the pandemic.
Here are some essential telehealth uses that have helped hospitals and patients, even before the COVID-19 outbreak:
- Engagement Through Remote Monitoring – Value-based reimbursement drives healthcare professionals to work with new channels for engagement with patients seeking self-care.
- Reliable Healthcare Access – A major strength to telehealth is that, despite a physician shortage, it expands healthcare access to individuals in remote locations, who may not have access to reliable healthcare services.
- Improved Clinical Efficiency – By helping to gather data and set priorities, telehealth is reinventing the medical world for greater clinical efficiency.
- More Affordable Healthcare – Patients can potentially save plenty of money by using telehealth services, which can diagnose health problems faster. Clinics and hospitals can also save money on operational costs.
- Enhanced Operations – By directing patients toward self-care online, telehealth is helping the healthcare industry make the transition to more digital solutions that eliminate waste and improves operational efficiency.
Use Cases of Telehealth During the COVID-19 Outbreak
When the coronavirus began breaking out in the US in early 2020, telemedicine helped provide routine care services to patients at the greatest risk of exposure to COVID-19. Telemedicine was also able to solve medical staffing problems, as many medical professionals tested positive for the virus and had to stay home. Healthcare providers were still able to use digital tools, such as video calls and chat bots, for patient communication.
Various types of digital solutions have been used during the coronavirus pandemic to connect patients with physicians. What used to require a hospital visit can now often be replaced by an app. Patients can simply interact with an app to get answers to their questions. It allows for instant contact with the hospital for emergencies and screening.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine and virtual health services are getting increased attention as an essential aspect of healthcare, and it’s likely that these services will create a new normal for healthcare in the future. Teladoc Health, the largest US telemedicine and virtual healthcare company, reported a 50 percent increase in service in the week ending March 20, which made them employ thousands of doctors to their network. The Federal Communications Commission is spending $200 million to improve connectivity between patients and virtual-healthcare providers, and the US Department of Health and Human Services has increased reimbursements for telemedicine and enabled cross-state provision of virtual care. Sweden’s KRY International, one of Europe’s biggest telehealth providers, reported that registrations were up more than 200 percent. France and Korea have both changed regulations to ease access to telemedicine.
In the wake of current pandemic, there’s a chance that the healthcare industry will increasingly move toward telehealth services that involve mobile solutions and digital communication. Telemedicine has been extremely helpful for screening, testing and treatment during the coronavirus pandemic. Developments in IoT, artificial intelligence and automation will refine this new direction for medicine over time and enable a new normal for healthcare in the future.