The telehealth revolution in response to COVID-19 has increased essential health care access during an unprecedented public health crisis. However, virtual patient care can also limit the patient-provider relationship, quality of examination, efficiency of health care delivery, and overall quality of care. As we witness the most rapidly adopted medical trend in modern history, clinicians are beginning to comprehend the many possibilities of telehealth, but its limitations also need to be understood. As outcomes are studied and federal regulations reconsidered, it is important to be precise in the virtual patient encounter approach. Herein, we offer some simple guidelines that could assist health care providers and clinic schedulers in determining the appropriateness of a telehealth visit by considering visit types, patient characteristics, and chief complaint or disease states.
The key trends observed at 2020 Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) meeting all focused around COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) and the impact it has had on radiology. The underlying question throughout the conference was how can the industry take the information from this past year and learn from it?
A panel of experts at the Primary Care Collaborative Annual Conference discussed ways to maximize the use of telehealth. Earlier this year, CMS said it would relax some of its telehealth rules during the COVID-19 public health emergency, leading to “between a 1,000 to 10,000% increase in the utilization of telemedicine visits by some health systems,” Ian Tong, MD, an adjunct clinical professor of medicine at Stanford University and chief medical officer of Doctor on Demand, said.
Adoption of telemedicine has been a controversial subject in urgent care. While some operators have seen its benefits by way of increasing access for patients—and, over the past few months, in reducing risk of COVID-19 transmission—others have expressed concern that patients may “self-diagnose” and demand prescriptions without the benefit of a full examination.
Many urgent care operators who couldn’t see the value in offering telemedicine services when patients could visit them on site at-will have changed their thinking since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. Too many patients decided they could wait, or forego care completely, rather than take what they saw as a risk in visiting a healthcare facility. As it turned out, telemedicine gave those operators a chance to stay connected with patients and provide care where otherwise they might not have been able to.
Since March, critical care teams across the country have been stretched to the limit as they rushed to care for the surge of COVID-19 patients in their ICUs. They were forced to deal with an unknown threat that would infect an unknown number of patients and require as yet undefined treatments.
We have learned these five key lessons so far with regard to ICU care of COVID-19 patients.
During times of social distancing, telehealth has been essential for continuity of care. However, in the rush to implement the technology, providers may have overlooked one important detail: If they don’t follow coding, documentation and other requirements, they could be at risk for a post-payment recoupment or even payer accusations of fraud in the months ahead.
In recent years, the merging of technology and health care has started to change the way medical professionals interact with patients, pharmacies, other health care professionals, and data itself. The current COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the growth of telehealth as communities around the world implemented lock-down guidelines, making routine health care and access to medical professionals more difficult.
It was the first day after the San Francisco Bay Area declared that residents shelter in place, and I was getting ready to see patients. I generally dress in a dry-cleaned shirt, slacks, and a tie. I’m a pediatrician and feel parents deserve to see a physician in professional attire for all the money they pay for healthcare. Shelter in place, however, meant dry cleaning services might be closed for a long while. So I opted instead for jeans and a sweater—easy to wash and dry at home. Inside my car, I felt uncertain. I was a team leader in my medical group’s response to the pandemic, but I wasn’t sure what awaited me.
The use of telemedicine has improved access to care for patients in rural areas while saving millions of dollars in travel expenses. However, insurance coverage of telemedicine services remains an issue, and some physicians have concerns about treating patients during virtual care visits rather than in the clinic, according to several panelists at a recent conference about the future of health care.