By Dhaval Shah, senior vice president of medical technology, and Neha Vora, healthcare consultant of medical technology, CitiusTech
In the current COVID-19 disrupted world, telehealth has seen unprecedented growth in adoption, as it minimizes the risk of exposure and aligns with the concept of social distancing. This has made healthcare systems accelerate the adoption of these services and also rapidly scale their processes to address the growing need of virtual care, as opposed to in-person visits and services.
And the acceleration is anticipated to continue for the foreseeable future. According to a report by Global Market Insights, the telemedicine market is set to be valued at $175.5 billion by 2026. Today, more than 50% of U.S. hospitals provide telehealth services in some form or other, and to meet the anticipated market growth, many more hospitals will adopt telehealth in the coming years.
Increased demand for remote/virtual care combined with federal and state derestriction has provided the much-needed stimulus for health systems to fast track their digital transformation journey in this space. Studies predict that 30% of all care will be delivered virtually post-pandemic as people start to see telehealth as their first point of contact for urgent care needs.
This brings us to the real question that each healthcare system needs to ask: “Is the current telehealth strategy aligned for the post-COVID world – the new normal?”
By Adam Herbst, senior vice president, chief legal, compliance, planning and government relations officer for Blythedale Children’s Hospital and adjunct assistant professor, and Ira Bedzow, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine, New York Medical College.
We continue to see how states are responding to the multiple challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic presents – trying to ensure there is hospital capacity for patients, protective equipment for healthcare workers, money in the hands of the unemployed, and food in the mouths of those who are hungry. All these endeavors have been responsive, by which we mean that even when states are preparing for problems, state leaders are enacting temporary solutions with the hope to return to the status quo ante.
Yet there is one major area of healthcare that the pandemic is forcing state and health leaders to confront, which can fundamentally change healthcare delivery in the future – telemedicine. While telemedicine has begun to replace office visits to primary care physicians and in certain specialties, it can be a major disruptor for behavioral health, where changes made now could last long after the pandemic. That will be a good thing. It would allow healthcare to meet the increasing needs for behavioral health, both because of the pandemic and in general. It would also serve as a paradigm case for how healthcare can and should adapt to meet the economic, social, and technological needs and opportunities of the future.
Because of the pandemic, states have loosened regulatory requirements, such as HIPAA and other privacy protection measures, so that patients can access clinicians through Skype and Facetime. This has created access to conventional clinical care, such as diagnosis and monitoring, as well as patient education and wellness promotion, among other services.
Telehealth has also benefited from the easing of restrictions, but states can and should do more. For example, while states have suspended border restrictions for telehealth due to the pandemic, the suspension is temporary, like all other responses so far. But it shouldn’t be. Public officials and health leaders need to find ways to maintain the increased and flexible access to telehealth even after the pandemic, especially in behavioral health.
With our current restrictive measures in place to address the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the immunocompromised and those with chronic conditions are confronting pandemic-exclusive challenges in requesting and receiving medical care services, as Instacares are flooded by potential COVID-19 patients and wait times skyrocket.
Thankfully, the medical arenas of telemedicine and addiction treatment are merging in response to quarantine procedures and CDC guidelines that have redefined a new normal. With recommendations of six feet of distance and religious mask wear, telemedicine has been there to step in and fill the gaps by providing ongoing communication, support, and advice for all sorts of mental and physical health needs.
Telemedicine works to improve patient/caregiver communication, reduce the need for travel, overcome geographic barriers, and provide ongoing assistance and support in achieving optimal health and wellness.
With buzzing news reports and political polarization, staying updated on the latest-and-greatest in telemedicine can be difficult among the noise of CDC guidelines, forming legislation, proposed stimulus packages, etc. What other innovations in telemedicine are on the agenda? How can telemedicine affect your ability to receive quality healthcare from the comfort and safety of your own home?
Here are some cutting-edge ways that telemedicine is supporting worldwide health, one interaction at a time:
It lengthens and strengthens treatment protocols
One of the areas most significantly impacted by these recent changes is that of. Pre-pandemic, a patient would have to attend 30-, 60- or 90-day inpatient treatment programs to receive care. However, in the wake of telemedicine, the possibility of receiving ongoing support and care in the comfort of your own home has opened up.
With the aid of telemedicine, patients are able to connect with caregivers for longer periods of time. As a result of this additional support, the probability of recovery and ongoing success with sobriety surges.
Since its introduction in the mid-1800s, the nursing profession has evolved leaps and bounds. Like other aspects of the medical profession, you might not recognize the nursing practice even as recently as a hundred years ago. So much has changed.
For example, it’s not such a female-dominated anymore; there are plenty of male nurses who take their jobs seriously. The schooling is a lot different, too. Yet, in other ways, much about nursing is the same. A nurse still helps the sick and injured; it’s just the overall science of treatment that has improved.
Let’s look at some of the ways that nursing has transformed since 1920.
In the early 1900s, nursing schools were called “Nightingale schools” after Florence Nightingale. There were less than a thousand such schools in the U.S. at the time. Students spent two to three years in training, but most of it was on the job. The aspiring students took care of actual hospital patients and spent little time in classrooms. Their time in school was more like an apprenticeship than what the modern nursing student goes through.
Today, there are a few classifications of nurses: LVN and RN are the most common. An LVN is a Licensed Vocational Nurse, and the schooling runs for about a year. An RN is a Registered Nurse, and the schooling is much longer. RN nursing programs last two or three years; some RNs pursue bachelor’s and graduate degrees. Gone are the days when a nursing profession
World War I ended near the end of 1918, and World War II didn’t start until the end of the 1930s. However, during those wars, many nurses were deployed to hospitals near the front lines. They had to deal with horrible sights, but many worked selflessly to help the injured and dying.
In addition to war hospitals, nurses back in the U.S. a hundred years ago were going through a change, as healthcare began its journey to become what it is today. Before the 1920s, babies were often born at home under midwife care. Some nurses were qualified to administer anesthesia. But standards were being laid down. Hospitals were beginning to look like what we expect a hospital to look like today.
It’s been more than 35 years since the original at-home pregnancy tests came on the market. Since then, there has been a surge of home-testing options, driven by a fervid interest in wellness, expediency, cost-efficiency, convenience, and the ease made possible by technology.
The technology behind at-home diagnostics
Rapid test results came to fruition through lateral flow immunoassay (LFIA). Immunoassay is a technique to analyze and measure concentrated substances, such as antibodies and hormones. Lateral flow immunoassay is a diagnostic device that can be configured to work with a variety of liquid samples, including blood, urine, serum, and saliva. Lateral flow devices (LFDs) can take on different forms that are compact and simple to employ, such as a dipstick or a housed cassette. LFDs are engineered to be intuitive and can be operated with little training, so testing can be performed by a patient at home as easily as a technician in a laboratory or a health care practitioner in a clinic.
Digital services have proved to be reliable and efficient in medical operations. Some doctors use digital services to advertise their products while others use various software to monitor their clients as well as prescribe drugs to them.
A few years ago it was difficult to imagine being able to monitor and prescribe drugs to patients remotely, but nowadays it’s commonplace. What’s more, doctors have taken advantage of similar technologies to save money and maximize profits in their medical businesses.
Below are some of the ways through which doctors are relying on digital services to save money:
Sophisticated payment software
Doctors are some of the busiest people in the world. Some of them rarely get more two breaks in a day. Sometimes they have juggle between several things to ensure everything is running smoothly. That’s the reason most of them are investing in digital services to make their work easier.
The good thing is that there are several software companies that are focusing on the healthcare industry. This has helped doctors save money that would have rather been stolen in one way or another. For instance, sophisticated software solutions provided by outside services help physicians negotiate payer contracts with insurance companies.
The golden years are becoming that much easier with each passing year thanks to quality of life improvements made possible through technological breakthroughs. Tech is empowering seniors to age in place much longer than anticipated. Furthermore, tech innovation is enhancing medical equipment and medications, ultimately improving seniors’ quality of life.
Data Analysis for Improved Care
Machine learning and artificial intelligence is significantly enhancing healthcare for seniors across the United States as well as the rest of the world. Tech is now capable of analyzing information in an incredibly efficient manner. Between health monitoring systems, smart watches for seniors and in-depth data analysis, there are all sorts of new and creative ways to monitor senior health.
Predictive analytics will likely prove quite important in the future for regular doctors, dentist for sale practices and others, ultimately empowering healthcare workers to predict seniors’ health challenges. It is quite possible predictive analytics will soon accurately predict a patient’s likelihood for a potentially devastating fall, a heart attack, stroke or other medical problem. The prudent use of such predictive analytics will make it easier for seniors to obtain the care they need for high-quality living throughout the entirety of the golden years.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine visits have been able to provide an increasing number of patients with virtual access to quality care without requiring in-person appointments.
However, many patients are still reluctant to accept telemedicine as an option, due to fears concerning out of pocket costs. Let us go over how telemedicine companies charge patients and the different ways that it can be the more affordable option.
How Telemedicine Companies Charge You
Paying Cash Per Visit
Several telemedicine companies ask patients to pay cash for each visit, which allows uninsured patients quick and easy access to healthcare professionals. A 2017 study shows that the average cost of a telemedicine visit is $79, compared to $149 for the average doctor’s office visit.
Paying Through Insurance
Many telemedicine companies work ‘one on one’ with doctors, who bill your telemedicine visit to your health insurance, providing an even more affordable option for many patients. As telemedicine becomes increasingly more popular, health insurance plans are starting to offer coverage for telemedicine visits on a more widespread basis. Your insurance may even cover medication prescribed to you by a telemedicine provider.
How Telemedicine Saves You Money
Eliminates Transportation Costs
An important way that telemedicine is more affordable than in-person visits is that virtual appointments eliminate the cost of transportation. With telemedicine, you can enjoy access to quality care without paying for public transportation, ride-sharing, gas or parking costs. This can be especially beneficial for families living in rural areas and forced to travel long distances to meet with their provider in person.
Eliminates Childcare Costs
Another factor making telemedicine more affordable is the elimination of childcare costs associated with a parent’s ‘in office visit’. Parents can attend a 15-20 minute virtual doctor’s appointment in the comfort of their own home, without the worry and expense of hiring a sitter for their children, traveling the 2-3 hours to and from their appointment, sitting in the waiting room, and time meeting with the doctor.
More Affordable Than In-Person Visits
Even paying out of pocket for telemedicine appointments, they are still more affordable than in-person visits. The cost of a telemedicine session is not only less out of pocket but results in lower co-pays if your coverage is through insurance. Cost sharing will vary based on your insurance plan, but by and large insurers compensate providers for telemedicine but at lower rates, which translates into lower patient co-pays too.
Numerous follow-up appointments can rack up costly co-pays and transportation costs for such a short visit. With a quick telemedicine appointment, you can continue receiving quality care at an affordable price, right at home or work.
Telemedicine platforms offer the more affordable healthcare option for both the insured and uninsured, while also eliminating the costs associated with physical visits. Be sure to check out platforms like Adviiseto find out how your insurance can help cover telemedicine visits. It is the modern doctor’s house call.
As the number of COVID-19 cases increases and social distancing measures remain, telehealth is making an integral contribution to healthcare. You could even say it has become a lifesaver.
A great way to reduce coronavirus spread and promote social distancing, telehealth enables stable patients to stay home while communicating with healthcare providers and receiving virtual medical care. It includes everything from making online appointments to conducting primary care visits through video chat – and is being adopted with greater frequency than ever.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “leveraging telemedicine whenever possible is the best way to protect patients and staff from COVID-19.”
Clearly, telehealth is an important tool that helps protect healthcare professionals and patients alike during these times. Yet even before the recent surge, telehealth visits were changing healthcare relationships for the better.
A January 2019 study published in The American Journal of Managed Care found that telehealth visits provide numerous benefits, including convenience for both the patients and healthcare providers.
The study concluded that virtual visits rated high among most patients, with most saying they would recommend telehealth appointments to family and friends. Patients also said it saved them the time it would take to visit to and from an appointment. Most patients and physicians said communication wasn’t lost through virtual visits.
For healthcare professionals, video visits are more efficient than in-office appointments, allowing them to see more patients each day. Telehealth also gives practices the option to extend hours without staffing an office. And recently, it has allowed healthcare professionals quarantined because of COVID-19 to treat patients remotely.
The Covid-19 Outbreak has completely upended our daily lives with social distancing measures and stay at home orders forcing most of the global population inside. One group who has been identified as being particularly at risk of infection throughout the crisis is the elderly.
Simultaneously because of the lock down procedures people are becoming more comfortable with using telemedicine solutions; during this outbreak period alone, we saw a 70% increase in the use of our phone and video-based teleconsultation services.
With at risk senior population required to stay inside, Telemedicine may prove to be the solution that can both keep our elderly population safe from this deadly virus and ensure they are still receiving the quality medical attention they need remotely.
With the world’s population growing older at historic levels, the “Silver Wave”, is upon us. This refers to the recent surge in the number of people over the age of 65, an age demographic which is anticipated to encompass more than 30 percent of the Europe’s population and 23 percent of the United States’ population by 2060.
This trend is also developing at concerning pace in Asia, where by 2030 it is expected that the region will house over 60 percent of the worldwide population of people age 65 and older. While this may not sound significant on it’s face, the economic implications alone raise several concerns, including a reduced labor force and strained healthcare systems.