Telehealth: Providing Remote Healthcare During the COVID-19 Outbreak

two doctors looking at a monitor

Since COVID-19 was declared a public health emergency, the healthcare industry has focused on caring for patients who tested positive for the virus and have shown symptoms of infection.

But, what if a patient is not infected and needs other healthcare services? Hospitals and clinics are focusing on the pandemic, and a few providers accept only emergency treatments. Remote health services are now possible with telehealth. Since 96% of Americans own a mobile phone or device, they can get a consultation or treatment through it. Healthcare workers can provide care to patients – both with and without coronavirus – without going to the clinic or hospital.

Benefits of Telehealth

Telehealth or telemedicine is the use of technology, such as computers and mobile devices, to deliver and facilitate health and health-related services remotely. These include medical care, health information service, patient education, and self-care. A gastroenterology (GI) doctor in Salt Lake City, for example, may read and interpret the medical exam results of a patient residing in another city. This solves the lack of a gastroenterologist in that city.

Telehealth has several benefits for doctors and patients:

Improves the patient experience: Healthcare providers may offer extended consultation hours and services that they could not provide on-site.

Improves patient engagement: Healthcare providers can remotely monitor and counsel their patients instead of having them visit the clinic or hospital.

Expands patient reach: Telehealth helps address the increasing shortage of physicians by providing access to healthcare outside the usual delivery areas.

Enhances efficiency: It is easier to evaluate physician performance and improve patient satisfaction because of easy access to communication and patient data.

Reduces costs: A telehealth visit costs less than a traditional on-site visit.

Making the Most of Telehealth

doctors looking at xrayMany medical practices are turning to telehealth to continue providing care for patients quarantined at home. If this is your first time to offer telehealth services, here’s a guide to help you:

Preparing for telehealth-based care

Read up on relevant guidelines released by your respective health sector. Check with your malpractice insurer and make sure your policy covers care through telemedicine. Browse your state’s requirements and prepare your staff and patients for the availability of telehealth care.

Finding a telehealth technology partner

A variety of partners and solutions exist but find one that’s easy for your patients and staff. You must integrate these solutions seamlessly into your current technology. Make sure you’re working with a partner that has solutions compliant with the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules.

Involving your staff

Engage your staff so they can help develop the telehealth practice and tweak factors for improvement. Delegate providers who will use telemedicine, and personnel who will schedule appointments.

Deciding the use of telehealth in your practice

There’s no one-size-fits-all method in using telemedicine in healthcare. Customize your telehealth service based on the unique requirements of your practice. It may be better to use video calls when the office is closed or block off specific times for remote consultations.

Letting your patients know

Announce on your website, emails, and social media pages that your practice is open for video consultations. Even if your patients don’t embrace the approach, they must at least know they have options, so they won’t go to your competitors when they need the service.

Telehealth has changed the way the healthcare industry delivers its services. This outbreak has made it increasingly essential for practices to use telemedicine to provide quality healthcare while preventing the spread of the virus.

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