Telemedicine is Trending
Right now, it may be hard to believe that some good can come out of a pandemic. However, we may be able to discover some positive changes we’ve made because of it all – specifically when it comes to our health. Over the past couple of months, staying healthy has been a priority for all. Everyone has been trying to figure out how to protect our health while still living as normally as possible. We can stay home, practice social distancing, and shop online, but can we maintain our health without visiting a medical provider?
It’s 2020 and telemedicine is trending. But prior to this pandemic, while some institutions offered telemedicine for a specific situation, it wasn’t incredibly common. According to a J.D. Power survey, only 1 in 10 US patients utilized telemedicine services. And, in 2016, only 15% of physicians worked in practices that used telehealth, according to a 2018 American Medical Association survey published in Health Affairs. In a pre-COVID world, there was an initial hesitation to change. The idea of upgrading an entire system – and the cost of that – felt like a risk to some. In order for the entire healthcare system to change the way we treat health, something major would have to change. Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the switch has been flipped and we’re in the middle of a healthcare revolution that will undoubtedly impact our healthcare system forever.
If you’ve had to seek any type of medical care in the past two months, it’s likely you’ve experienced this new wave of technology. Medical professionals are tapping into already established telehealth systems, like PlushCare, pushing in-house telemedicine capabilities to the next level, or just utilizing video chats or phone calls to communicate with patients. As a woman in her second trimester of her first pregnancy, I’ve experienced every type of telemedicine appointment available – and the convenience and safety factor is a game-changer. Knowing I can get the care I need without risking my health or the baby’s safety gives true peace of mind – and instills additional trust in my medical practitioner. I imagine those who have a chronic illness or those who are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 feel the same.
And, even though a lot of the appointments that can be done through telemedicine are generally not life-threatening, the medical community has figured out a way to utilize technology to assess COVID-19 virtually – decreasing the need for people to travel or go to the hospital unnecessarily. “By deploying advanced telehealth solutions, physicians are expanding their reach – even if quarantined – with the ability to remotely examine and diagnose more patients in a shorter amount of time, minimizing the number of patients entering hospitals and medical facilities,” said Gilad of Tyto Care.
This isn’t just limited to hospital and general practitioners – it also applies to mental health professionals. While it’s imperative for patients who are in need of mental health care to continue seeing their doctor, in-office visits have proven to be unnecessary. Established psychiatric patients who are prescribed medication are required to check in regularly to continue their medication, and telemedicine has completely eliminated the need to speak face to face – in person that is.
This shift is not only helping patients feel safer, but it is also relieving added strain on our already crowded emergency rooms and doctors’ offices. And it could keep the crucial medical professionals on the front line a little bit safer. The question now is, once social distancing and quarantine law isn’t as restrictive, can and will medical providers continue with telemedicine as a viable alternative to in-office visits? The hope is yes.