The convenience of telehealth, both for the medical professional and the patient, is a strength that can’t be overstated. Telehealth, or telemedicine, empowers patients to have better access to quality care at more affordable prices. As a result, telehealth and telemedicine have seen a sharp increase in use and popularity over the past few years.
There are many explanations as to why that uptick has occurred, from the practice becoming routine during the pandemic, an increase in access to more technology, and a demand for more convenient, affordable healthcare.
Technology has advanced in leaps and bounds in almost all industries, but it’s not hard to see just how much has changed in nursing. Previously labor-intensive tasks like lifting patients and administering medication are now made much easier by using technology and innovative practices. If it has been some time since you stepped foot in a hospital, you might be amazed by the following incredible changes.
Online Nursing Programs
In the past, the only way to become a nurse was by attending a nursing school in person. You might have had to move to a new location and change your entire life just to partake in the program. Now, you can enroll in a nurse program online, and nothing else in your life has to change.
As long as you have a computer, an internet connection, and your chosen provider’s classroom software, you can study to become a nurse. Nursing programs are available for secondary school graduates and nurses looking to upskill. All classes, assignments, and grades are accessible anywhere in the world from the cloud.
Diagnosing illnesses has always been challenging, especially when a wide range of symptoms can indicate an equally wide range of ailments. However, diagnostic equipment has advanced significantly, and it’s now no longer as challenging as it used to be. For example, nurses can use handheld biosensors that require a body specimen and receive definitive answers. They can also utilize ultrasound machines for the best chance of success while placing an IV.
U.S. hospitals are struggling to see patients in a timely manner amidst hours-long backlogs.
The rise in Omicron variant cases has left many US hospitals unable to cope with the number of patients being admitted, with ERs bearing the brunt.
The backlog is not only causing problems for COVID-19 patients but also for people suffering from various other ailments wh are unable to get seen as soon as s they should be. Many urgent procedures have also been paused as medics desperately try to clear the backlog.
California man, May Gleason, took his father Eugene, 92, to a local emergency room a week ago as he required a blood transfusion to treat his blood disorder The procedure, which should have taken a maximum of 10 hours, turned into a 48-hour ordeal, as medics struggled to attend to his, or the many other patients who were sat right beside him’s needs.
Om average, over 144,000 people were admitted to US hospitals with COVID as of January 24th. This was the highest number of recorded COVID patients since the pandemic started, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
A new report from Reason Foundation, Cicero Institute and Pioneer Institute rates every state’s telehealth policy for patient access and ease of providing virtual care.
Millions of Americans tried telehealth for the first time last year as federal officials and governors temporarily lifted restrictions that limited patient access to virtual care. But many of these restrictions on practices like speaking with doctors across state lines, recording voice messages with care instructions, and mandating insurance coverage have been reinstated, the new report finds.
“Once the public health emergency declarations started to end or executive orders were withdrawn many of the new flexibilities for providers, insurers, and patients were lost overnight,” said Vittorio Nastasi, policy analyst at Reason Foundation and co-author of the report. “States need to adopt a number of telehealth reforms to provide their residents better access to this safe and effective virtual care.”
Nationally, the study finds that several states that have been hardest hit by the pandemic have the most restrictive telehealth laws. These states include New York, California, and Connecticut which have not signed up for interstate licensing compacts and have coverage parity mandates that offer no flexibility between the insurer and provider.
Only three states — Arizona, Florida, and Indiana — allow all providers to easily practice telehealth across state lines. Forty-seven others have arbitrary barriers in place that limit patients’ access to specialists and available appointments based purely on residency.
On a positive note, almost all states have removed the requirement that a patient must first see a provider in-person before they can use telehealth services, the exception being Tennessee, while Alaska and West Virginia require an in-person visit before certain services can be provided. Another 20 states allow full independent practice for nurse practitioners without the supervision of a physician.
The report highlights telehealth policy best practices for states. “While they cannot and should not replace all in-person medical appointments, virtual visits can save patients time and help them avoid germ-filled waiting rooms. Providers can also take some pressure off overburdened systems as they can see patients from an office or home,” writes report co-author Josh Archambault, a senior fellow with Cicero Institute and Pioneer Institute.
While FitBit Watches and smartphone apps have certainly made an impact on personal health and wellbeing,healthcare technology is also revolutionizing the entire medical industry. This is especially true in the field of recovery from addiction disorders.
Technology today is enabling medical professionals and rehabilitation facilities to effectively provide healthcare to individuals who desperately need assistance with substance abuse. Furthermore, technology helps people with addiction disorders by placing powerful data in the hands of healthcare providers and individuals struggling with addiction.
As of 2021, there are over20 million Americans suffering from some type of addiction disorder. Regrettably, this number is on the rise. Political upheavals, economic instability and pandemic-related tribulations are affecting millions of Americans, and this contributes to the number of deaths from drug overdose to skyrocket in to an all-time high in 2022.
Thankfully, medical technology is bridging the gap for people in need by efficiently and effectively rendering aid to people seeking recovery.
How Technology Plays A Role In Addiction Recovery
While the aforementioned statistics are staggering, there is hope, and technology is at the forefront of millions receiving treatment they deserve. Here are a few examples of how technology is helping people with addiction disorders.
1) Telehealth Services
While the pandemic has left adverse effects on the American population, it has also forced the medical industry to make improvements. Telehealth is a network of health-centric services and information that is utilized and accessed over the internet. People with addiction disorders or in recovery can make appointments online to see their doctors, refill prescriptions or even receive rehabilitative care through telehealth services. This reduces a lot of stress for many people struggling with addictions. In the past, the only option for in-patient rehabilitation was to physically attend a recovery facility. Telehealth allows patients in rehab to safely move through the recovery process in the comfort of their own homes.
By John Guiliana, DPM, MS, medical director of podiatry, ModMed.
The flaws in our healthcare system that have bloated the cost of care to nearly one-fifth of the United States gross domestic product are too numerous to list. However, as a physician, I would like to highlight some issues from a clinical perspective, especially the value of preventive care.
Physicians and care providers wield tremendous power to drive down the cost of healthcare. They can champion a higher standard of care while limiting avoidable medical expenses. One overall strategy is stressing wellness and prevention to keep people out of doctors’ offices and hospitals. But we can’t do it alone.
Both providers and payers need to act. When it comes to completely rethinking traditional reimbursement models, payers need to be on board.
Among the best practices is a more “hands-on approach” to preventive care, taking full advantage of technologies that already exist. Incorporating these technologies effectively can include creating more digital “touchpoints” with patients to keep them engaged in their own care. Greater patient involvement can also help them make more informed decisions and decrease time wasted through staff-assisted scheduling and data entry.
Furthermore, patient engagement tools can cut unnecessary spending by increasing efficiency. The potential also exists for greater patient engagement to translate to marked improvements in patient outcomes.
At the same time, practices that leverage these technologies successfully could also see lower costs.
A call to recognize telehealth’s role
When medical technologies become routine in a practice setting, they can also help with routine care – such as a patient’s annual or bi-annual in-person visit. These regular wellness visits, for example, can be elevated through more frequent interactions between physicians and their patients, including telehealth services. In fact, efforts to expand telehealth services out of necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic are translating to enhanced accessibility to physicians for patients.
On top of the increased convenience provided by telehealth platforms, patients trusted and appreciated the ability to interact with physicians via digital technologies during the pandemic, a March 2021 study revealed. Out of 368 patients surveyed, 47% said they were “very satisfied’ with the virtual health visit and another 35% were ‘satisfied.”
At the same time, payer models need to reflect the increasing popularity of telehealth services. In other words, payers need to catch up and increase reimbursement for appointments that include telehealth consultations.
In that sense, payers will be critical to improving preventive care as well. It is pretty simple. Without fair reimbursement, telehealth has no chance of remaining viable for providers.
On a positive note, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) expanded coverage for telehealth services during COVID-19. What will happen after the pandemic subsides remains unknown, so more permanent legislation is needed to continue virtual health care coverage.
Virtual services have now become the new normal with telehealth being a prime example. Now if we want an annual checkup or consultation, we can talk to a doctor from the comfort of our own home. But why haven’t we always taken advantage of this virtual alternative?
Until the pandemic highlighted the need for more digital services and flexibility, the healthcare industry had been hesitant to embrace virtual alternatives like telehealth. Traditionally, both patients and doctors have (understandably) preferred in-person visits and consultations. Patients believed in-person visits were more thorough, personal, and safe, while providing an opportunity to become more comfortable with their providers.
In the height of the pandemic, physicians and healthcare professionals worked hard to mitigate exposure by avoiding unnecessary contact with others. Sometimes, in-person follow-up appointments just weren’t necessary. Rather than risk unnecessary exposure, doctors and healthcare facilities began embracing telehealth — virtual visits leveraging telecommunications technology.
During this time, patients were also worried about their access to quality healthcare as less and less in-person visits were possible. This inevitably fostered the rise of telehealth as a safe and effective way to address patient concerns without the physical risk. Since then, many physicians have become so dedicated to telehealth that they refuse to see patients exclusively in-person. Furthermore, it has spawned an entirely new medical practice with companies like Covenant Health Virtual Care, now employing doctors solely to provide virtual telemedicine services.
However – as many physicians and patients have learned – telehealth brings new challenges, and those problems are exacerbated in underserved communities with limited and unreliable Internet infrastructure. These communities tend to be far (the edge) from major cities where hospitals and medical practices are often located (the core), resulting in an even greater need for access to reliable telehealth services.
Providing telehealth solutions for your patients is one of the best ways for you to increase your patient’s health outcomes. Today, it’s easier for you to provide healthcare services to your patients with the advancement in telehealth technology. However, maintaining telehealth services for your healthcare organization is not as easy as it sounds. It needs a good workflow system that can help you handle the patient’s requests each day. Here are 4 best practices for building a long-term telehealth workflow:
Get Updated on the Staff Appointment Availability
First, you need to understand that the success of your telehealth services will depend on your staff availability. In your healthcare organization, you need to have some staff ready for telehealth appointments, whether via live video conferencing or instant messaging, and you need them to handle the patient’s requests right away. It’s important for you not to let your patients wait for too long just to get them connected to one of your healthcare professionals.