Blog Entry

Health in the Midst of the Coronavirus Crisis_ What You Need to Know About Telehealth

Telehealth has been around for years now, but the recent crisis has increased the demand for it, especially since it’s now the safest way for people to get access to healthcare. Due to the implementation of the shelter at home order, it is easiest and safest for patients to seek out healthcare via telehealth visits. Most hospitals are slowly integrating its use for screening and triaging possible COVID-19 patients. By March, telehealth visits across the country went up to 50 percent, and experts suggest that it will hit 1 billion users by the end of 2020.


How Does Telehealth Work?


The success and efficiency of telehealth rely solely on technology. Email, videoconferencing, and video chat are some of the most common ways patients can connect with medical professionals. Responses from healthcare workers can be provided in real-time as well as FAQs and directions already present online. 


Making the Most Out of Telehealth Medicine


Due to the current pandemic, it is advised to stay home unless you have life-threatening symptoms. In person care has been significantly reduced. Through the use of telemedicine, however, you will be able to connect with a medical practitioner as needed, and all in the comfort and safety of your own home. Here’s everything you need to know about telehealth: 


1. Identify who offers it


Hospital systems and insurance companies are currently carving the pathway for telehealth accessibility. However, typically the system remains limited to rural areas where patients need to visit specific sites to get medical attention. More often than not, people from these areas need to drive for hours to receive medical care, however current circumstances have made these clinics close down. The federal government, however, has explained that efforts on expanding telemedicine accessibility have already begun, especially for the vulnerable population (senior citizens, the immunocompromised, and the disabled) and households with low incomes.


2. You’ll be able to get prescriptions and test requests


Should you need it, your healthcare provider will be able to send prescriptions directly to your local pharmacy. When it comes to coronavirus care, providers won’t be able to test everyone, but they will be able to identify those who may need to undergo testing.


3. Use other connected devices


Telehealth uses more than just your smartphone and computer. It can also access other technologies, such as activity trackers and smartwatches, to help track and assess your overall health. People suffering from pre-existing diseases will be able to track blood glucose and digitized asthma inhalers. Through the data collected from these devices, the health care provider will be able to identify relevant information to assess you properly, despite the virtual set-up.


The Costs of Telehealth Sessions


The costs of telehealth sessions vary greatly, but insurance plans are now covering it, provided that the covered doctor or hospital provides telehealth services directly. Consumers, however, may still be asked to pay for certain costs and charges—typically just the normal copay, but once again, the prices vary. Recent changes, however, explain that Medicare will cover telehealth services, but not much has been said yet.


Conclusion


The sudden surge of demand and interest for telehealth is unprecedented. Its power and value as a tool in medicine have always been apparent, but the pandemic has allowed it to truly shine. Not all medicine can be done virtually, of course, but its many benefits remain clear. One thing is certain: the prospects for telehealth medicine only remain brighter, even after this coronavirus crisis has died down.  


If you’re looking for a medical or mental health visit virtually in Oregon, our doctors and nurse practitioners are the ones to call. At Well Life Medicine, we care about ensuring everyone’s well-being and safety, so we’ve decided to operate via telemedicine and virtual visits. Book an appointment with us now! We make it so easy: no apps to download, just click on a link and enter your name and voila: your provider appears on your screen. We can see you for routine follow-ups, new patient intake (for primary care or mental health), COVID screening or any urgent care concern. 


Thursday April 16, 2020