The global COVID-19 pandemic has strongly influenced the shift in healthcare from mostly in-person care to predominantly virtual care. With the need to free up the hospital spaces for the rising number of COVID-19 and other emergent patients, many providers shifted the follow-up and chronic care to virtual. In addition, many specialist appointments are now conducted virtually. Consequentially, the role of telemedicine shifted from an additional tool that was only used occasionally, to an essential tool that is used to treat a number of patients every day.
With the current climate in the medical world, there is a lot of discussions as to what the future of telemedicine is. Is it here to claim its rightful place in medical care or is it just a temporary tool to help providers fight through pandemic? At Vivadox, we believe that telemedicine is still at its infant stage, and not only is it here to stay but to revolutionize healthcare as we know it.
Here are some of the reasons why telemedicine is here to stay:
High Patient Demand and Convenience
During the global pandemic, it has become clear to both patients and providers that not all follow-ups, prescription refills, consultations, and chronic care appointments require an in-person office visit. Telemedicine allows great convenience and reduced travel time, and most of the patients may be willing to pay standard co-pays or more for this convenience . With a smaller time commitment required from the patients, they no longer need to dedicate a whole day to go receive the treatment they need. With providers constantly looking for ways to enhance the patient experience, telemedicine comes in as an excellent way to attract the patient and use it regularly in the treatment where appropriate.
Technology is still advancing and the possibilities for the future of telemedicine are endless. The constant advances in technology are constantly influencing the transformation of the healthcare system. Many tech companies are working on improving their healthcare solutions by utilizing everything from well-established communication tools like video and audio calls to revolutionary technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. While incorporating features to obtain providers’ feedback and using it to make adjustments and improvements that would improve both providers’ experience and satisfaction, telemedicine tools are becoming more accepted and viable for everyday use.
Regulations and Reimbursement Policies
As the COVID-19 emerged, many of the regulations and policies governing telemedicine have been loosened and continuously updated to accommodate the current state of emergency. These changes brought an unexpected outcome of establishing the benefits of telemedicine by helping patients continue their treatment with doctors remotely without the risk and fear of virus illness contraction. Many patients that would normally not be able to access telemedicine were able to receive care from the comfort of their homes. There are efforts to change permanent telemedicine and regulations (you can read more about this on the ATA website) to allow greater patient access to telemedicine and for the providers to get adequate reimbursements for the care provided. With the rapid growth of telemedicine, it is expected that the regulations governing telemedicine will be constantly updated and expanded to include new technologies and use cases.
Make Healthcare Accessible
Many rural areas in the United States do not have easy access to healthcare. While there are areas with limited access to the Internet and smartphones, in recent years, there have been great efforts to improve this. Patients must travel for hours at times to receive the adequate care they need. For the older patients with chronic conditions, this can mean that they will not see their providers as often as they should. Allowing telemedicine to continue beyond the pandemic can significantly impact the frequency and quality of care patients in rural are receive. Additionally, they can connect with specialists that they would normally not be able to see due to location constraints and get advice.
Ultimately, virtual care has proven to be beneficial and can have a critical role as a supplemental tool in the future of medical care. With innovative features and improved functionality and coverage, telemedicine tools will become one of the top choices for patient treatment long after the pandemic is over.