Telehealth is no longer just a nice thing to have, but a must have for patients and healthcare professionals during these uncertain times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While we all wish it hadn't taken a pandemic to boost telehealth, for better or for worse, it has.
Since a significant portion of the US has stay-at-home orders to help flatten the curve, people still need their doctors, and access to telehealth can help make this possible. As with all technology, there are limitations, but telemedicine has an important role to play not only in detecting COVID-19 symptoms, but also in keeping up with routine needs and follow- ups. It is even used to keep seeing and treating cancer patients.
In a recent survey , nearly half (45%) of those surveyed said their mental health is being affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and the use of virtual visits for mental health needs has reached record levels. The current situation has drawn attention to the value of access to telemental health both for existing patients and for the influx of new ones.
“In addition to the exacerbated anxiety people feel, I have seen an increase in relapses and domestic violence, as well as a growing number of clients requesting psychiatrist referrals for the first time. At first my clients and even I were resisting telemental health (which was new to me), but within weeks the training wheels came loose and I am treating clients efficiently and effectively.
Additionally, an announcement by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has established a $ 200 million COVID-19 telehealth program to help eligible healthcare providers continue to treat patients with the help of telehealth technology. This should help make technology more accessible to patients who might not otherwise be able to access telehealth services.
For now, telehealth is playing an important role during the COVID-19 crisis. Adoption by both patients and healthcare professionals will help lay the foundation to secure your place in the future of continuity of care. As well as the idea of robot-assisted surgeries, it seemed a bit too futuristic not too long ago, they are here to stay. To turn a blind eye to the value of telehealth is to reject the untapped potential for the immediate and long-term future of healthcare. While no one really knows what the post-pandemic world will look like, it is clear that telehealth technology will continue to evolve and become a permanent part of our daily lives.
With the help of technology, we will be even more connected to our own health. But it has the potential to help track and identify those who may have been in contact with someone infected with COVID-19 and can help predict outbreaks before they get out of control.
Until a vaccine is developed, we are all likely to continue to exercise caution. We will continue to choose telehealth services that reduce risk and reduce unnecessary interactions.