It didn’t take long for the COVID-19 pandemic to upend virtually every aspect of our daily lives, from the ways we work and learn to the ways we spend time with our dear ones. One of the most significant impacts, however, is on the way we receive our healthcare.
Physical distancing is one of the best tools we have right now to relieve the burdens on a healthcare system battling against the COVID surge. As difficult as it may be, we distance ourselves so that we don’t ultimately add to that tidal wave of infections.
And, when it comes to healthcare, the need for physical distancing has brought to light the extraordinary promise of telehealth to light.
In fact, it’s very likely that the popularity of telemedicine is going to long outlive the pandemic itself. But that’s only if healthcare providers and administrators continue to cultivate the technology’s immense potential.
Expanding Patient Reach
One of the most exciting aspects of telehealth is its capacity to safely extend healthcare to vulnerable and marginalized patients. The sick, the elderly, and the poor may not have had reliable access to consistent healthcare even before the outbreak of the virus.
They may have lacked transportation to medical appointments, for instance, or they may simply have been too frail to travel to them. Telehealth promises to change all that by providing patients with access not only to their healthcare providers but also to diagnostic, monitoring, and treatment technologies right from the comfort of their own homes.
And if there are any upsides to the pandemic, it’s that at least some of our most vulnerable populations will now have access to telemedicine through Medicare. This will protect high-risk patients by allowing them to receive vital care while maintaining social distancing.
The Tools of the Trade
One of the primary reasons healthcare providers have been reluctant to embrace telehealth so far is simply because they feared the technology. Between the pressures of patient care and the stresses of sustaining a practice, it can feel that learning a whole new patient care platform is an unattainable luxury. It’s a goal that there’s simply been no time and energy for.
But now things have changed. What was once a matter of choice has now become a matter of necessity. The pandemic has given healthcare providers the push they needed to make the leap into telemedicine.
Fortunately, you’re probably going to find the transition easier than you think. The key is to choose the best software for your needs and those of your patients. You’re also probably going to want to upgrade your internet to make sure it is both secure and can accommodate the increased demand.
One of the most important aspects of telemedicine is that you’re not just confined to video or audio consults. You can also securely send and receive electronic medical records and essential documents, practically at any time, and from anywhere.
You’re also able to secure patients’ legal signatures on billing statements, medical records, and consent forms. And all this can be done in adherence to HIPAA standards and at the single click of a mouse. That not only makes healthcare safer and more efficient for the patient and provider, but it’s also going to protect healthcare staff as well as make their work easier. There’s no longer going to be a need to shuttle documents back and forth from one physical location to another, which not only takes time but also increases the risk of disease exposure and spread.
As it has blazed its way across the globe, the coronavirus has left a path of heartbreak in its wake. But there will be some good to come of this pandemic, one of the best of which will be the flourishing of telehealth. With telemedicine, those who had once been without access to consistent, high-quality healthcare will now enjoy the care they need and deserve. The poor, the frail, and the elderly will now be able to access their care providers from the comfort and safety of their own homes. And practitioners, at last, will be able to expand the possibilities of the care they provide.