Telemedicine after COVID-19: How Can Future Needs Addressed by Telemedicine Optimization
The world has been dealing with a global health catastrophe: The COVID-19 pandemic. Although many health organizations are focusing their efforts on combating COVID-19’s strong consequences, maintaining essential and critical clinical services is crucially significant. The initial reaction in many countries was for healthcare facilities to curtail or even eliminate various clinical services, including clinic shutdown and the suspension of all non-critical medical services.
Telemedicine, on the other hand, allows for uninterrupted medical care while ensuring strict social distancing. Concerned with the COVID-19 global health crisis, health organizations are increasingly embracing the utilization of telemedicine in ambulatory care settings. Patients who are at risk may benefited from staying at home, minimizing their exposure to others while still receiving medical treatment. As a result, health systems around the world are shifting to telemedicine, resulting in an accelerated boom in telemedicine utilization.
Geographic and provider barriers hindered the adoption of telemedicine prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and private insurers extended covered telehealth services, providing a healthier alternative for patients and providers. The telehealth adoption and utilization surged early in the COVID-19 pandemic as providers and consumers seek safe and secure ways to access and deliver healthcare.
The below-listed factors facilitated this step-change:
- Rising customer willingness to use telemedicine.
- Higher provider willingness to use telemedicine.
- Regulatory reforms that enable greater access and reimbursement.
Telemedicine created a connection to care during the pandemic’s trauma, and it now provides an opportunity to redefine virtual and hybrid virtual/in-person care models with the objective of enhancing healthcare access, effectiveness, and affordability.
Telemedicine after COVID-19
Telemedicine looks to be an effective treatment option. This rate of growth is fueled by strong ongoing uptake, positive customer perceptions, the regulatory framework, and massive investment in the sector. Telemedicine has the potential to improve access to necessary care in regions where there are shortages, such as behavioral health, as well as the patient experience and health outcomes.
These solutions can also boost healthcare efficiency; prior to COVID-19, studies showed that telemedicine solutions for chronic populations can drastically reduce healthcare costs by 2 to 3 percent. Once stakeholders accept telemedicine as the new normal, the real opportunity will probably expand.
The shift to telehealth driven by COVID-19 is considered as a positive development, as it provides a more convenient experience for both patients and providers.
When the pandemic comes to an end, experts predict that the healthcare industry will continue to offer telemedicine, although the conditions may shift. The success of telemedicine will be determined by reimbursement methods, the process of onboarding patients and providers, and the implementation of technology and practice solutions.
Meanwhile, federal legislation in telehealth is evolving and moving forward. The Telehealth Modernization Act will make tweaks to ensure that telehealth coverage stays in effect when the public health emergency comes to an end. The legislation would safeguard rural telehealth access and eliminate limitations that restricted telehealth to hospitals and nursing homes. If passed, the proposal would also provide the US Secretary of Health and Human Services Telemedicine authority.
Telemedicine Optimization to Address Future Needs
In the future, experts believe that optimizing the use of telemedicine will be a major challenge. Telemedicine services are being used to facilitate collaboration and efficiency of treatment with long-term care facilities, and other provider facilities, as well as to expand access to primary care and urgent care.
Enhancing Long-Term Care
Healthcare providers must employ a unique initiative to enhance 24/7 care in those settings and to build an infrastructure to deliver rapid access to care and telemedicine consulting to collaborate long-term care facilities. The following can be achieved by this collaboration:
- Accessibility, diagnosis, and patient care management are among the major goals.
- Minimizing patient and provider exposure to save PPE kits.
- Enhancing primary care and specialty visit access.
- Optimizing internal and external training.
Expanding Medicare Access
Telehealth regulations are shifting at the federal level, and Medicare limitations on a broad array of services and delivery methods have been lifted. Improvements on telehealth access services for new and existing patients, and approved two-way real-time audio-video technology must be expanded to incorporate cellphones and audio-only communication.
The current crisis has emphasized the significance of telemedicine and provided an opportunity to modernize the healthcare system. This will be accomplished by integrating telehealth into the care continuum at a massive scale. The healthcare systems that act decisively, invest in scaling up capabilities, study diligently to rewire the care delivery paradigm, and provide distinctive high-quality care to consumers will emerge triumphant.