It is true that Covid-19 limited part of society in many facets of everyday life; however, it also enhanced others such as the healthcare sector and in particular telemedicine where access to medicine is now both more available and affordable. With the widespread acceptance of digital innovations in medicine, new terms such as telehealth and telemedicine have been coined.
The practice of providing remote medical care using technology services such as live video conferencing, monitoring systems, and virtual visits is becoming the new norm in 2022. Many interactions don’t necessarily require physical meetings and a remote face-to-face meeting will be good enough. Remote access reduces the cost of a doctor visit, eliminates time wasted in traveling, and allows a doctor or a nurse visit to be more focused and more productive. Telemedicine technologies are becoming a norm in healthcare and their usage is expected to continue growing. Finally, telemedicine allows more patients to get healthcare while physicians can see more patients.
However, let’s first define what is telehealth. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defines telehealth as the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, and public health and health administration. Technologies include videoconferencing (i.e. video chat and video conferencing), the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and landline and wireless communications. Telehealth services may be provided, for example, through audio, text messaging, or video communication technology, including videoconferencing software. For purposes of reimbursement, certain payors, including Medicare and Medicaid, may impose restrictions on the types of technologies that can be used. Those restrictions do not limit the scope of the HIPAA Notification of Enforcement Discretion regarding COVID-19 and remote telehealth communications.
Throughout history, medicine has always served as an instrument for preserving health. This can include alleviating pain and suffering (physical and emotional), preventing disease spread, caring for those who need assistance, and promoting healthy habits. Nevertheless, we see that accessibility has become a growing issue with COVID-19, with the increasing cost of energy we also have seen growing issues related to mobility. This is where telehealth enters the picture, as it provides equal access to affordable and competent health care using digital technologies. According to YaleMedicine as far as mental health, the convenience is unprecedented, patients can meet with caregivers in their car on a lunch break or from any remote location.
Telemedicine expands access and also easily allows for a lot of important follow-up visits that can be done like this. Telemedicine has seen a huge increase in popularity for patients because it has made it easier for those who couldn’t attend in-person consultations to communicate with their doctors via video chat. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights issued a Notification of Enforcement Discretion to empower covered health care providers to use widely available communications applications without the risk of penalties imposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights for violations of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) rules for the good faith provision of telehealth services. That was a very important step toward accepting telemedicine as a mainstream technology for healthcare.
The ability to provide medical services remotely also reduces the risk of contracting a new illness. One of the most common places to find lots of sick people is at the doctor’s office, as the waiting rooms are often crowded with sick patients. With free video chat services becoming more common in the healthcare industry, patients can get the care they need while avoiding the risk of exposure to other patients. In the aftermath of COVID-19, this was essential as it allowed infected individuals to remain at home while still receiving all the necessary medical attention. With time, telemedicine will be utilized more by those suffering from common infectious diseases such as influenza and common colds and mental health as mentioned earlier.
Statistics show that this is a beginning of a trend. Presently, more younger people and often more educated use more video chat, but that is expected to change as more people become comfortable with the usage of such communication tools. According to ASPE issue brief from Feb 1, 2022, among telehealth users, the highest share of visits that utilized video services occurred among young adults ages 18 to 24 (72.5%), those earning at least $100,000 (70%), those with private insurance (about 66%), and White individuals (about 62%). Video telehealth rates were lowest among those without a high school diploma (about 38 %), adults ages 65 and older (43.5%), Latino (about 51%), Asian (about 51%), and Black individuals (about 57%). That means that there is also room for growth as telemedicine should actually be very relevant to those who still don’t use it much,
With health care services expanding to include video chat technologies that work with all platforms including desktop and mobile devices (be it video chat on iOS or video chat on Android) the options to provide better healthcare service with telemedicine seem infinite. Eazyshow‘s live engagement technology with its rich backend solution offers healthcare providers such Saas technology.
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