One of the areas of healthcare services that has significantly surged in recent months is telemedicine or telehealth. As many individuals adhere to travel restrictions and stay-at-home policies, it has become tricky to seek in-person consultation. As a result, many people have resorted to consultations over the phone. However, for patients who are managing pain, this scenario can be a real struggle. How can doctors and patients work towards effective management and treatments for pain via telemedicine? Here are some best practices:
Timeliness of Services
Most patient anxiety comes from the inability to see their doctors for their sessions, refills, and even essential follow-up appointments. In fact, these patients are best treated with effective pharmacology. Some healthcare services would filter chronic patients and only accept patients without a known diagnosis. However, for patients with chronic illnesses, they are best dealt with via pain management.
Provision of Drug Prescriptions
One of the main concerns of pain management patients is obtaining prescriptions when their consultation is over the phone. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Diversion Control Division pointed out that issuance of prescriptions for controlled substances is allowed provided that the criteria are met:
- The prescription is given for a legitimate medical purpose and by a medical provider within his or her clinical practice.
- The doctor and patient conducted a real-time consultation with audio-visual and two-way interactive systems.
- The medical doctor acts in accordance with relevant federal and state laws.
When these criteria are satisfied, the patient can reimburse their spending as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would conduct an audit to check if the patient and doctor had an established relationship before the pandemic began. This is essential to prove that there is no abuse of the system and avoid any potential pain medication addictions.
Doing Virtual Check-Ins
It is also crucial for patients to do regular virtual check-ins with their healthcare provider. This is necessary to prove to the DEA and HHS that the patient is serious about resolving their chronic pain. According to federal agencies, these check-ins must be patient-initiated. However, doctors also have the responsibility of educating their patients about the availability of such services. Doctors should make sure that they can receive verbal consent from patients to receive this assistance. Keeping a record of this consent is necessary.
Virtual check-ins are an excellent way of counter-checking patient compliance with their medications and other treatment modalities. It is also an excellent way for patients to raise questions about treatment options and share the effects of medicines on their illnesses.
These online check-ups are also a must for patients who are at high risk of being dependent on medications. In fact, these options in telemedicine are crucial in alleviating patients’ fear and anxiety, especially when the pain becomes unbearable or depressing.
Offering Electronic Visits
Telemedicine is way beyond virtual consultations. There are various health portals that allow patients to learn about healthcare providers’ services without the requirement of face-to-face meetings between the two parties.
Telemedicine is not a new offering in healthcare. It has existed way before the coronavirus pandemic, but it is proving to be an effective method of ensuring continuity of care, specifically for patients dealing with chronic pain. By the looks of it, it may become the norm as we embrace a new world of healthcare.