It is difficult to be in the medical industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospital-based providers and those working in urgent care centers face huge influxes of patients that puts an enormous strain on the system. In some cases, these large numbers of patients needing care from COVID-19 can cause a hospital’s ICU to reach capacity.
For other doctors outside of COVID-19 care, it could be a famine where very few patients schedule appointments. As patients avoid going out into the community to reduce their transmission risk and put off elective surgeries and appointments, this can make it difficult for other medical practices to function. In fact, some nurses and staff members have been let go during this time where medical professionals are needed more than ever.
Fortunately, there is a solution for doctors during the COVID-19 crisis that can help. Telehealth can improve both of these situations. In this article, we discuss how telehealth is the best solution for doctors during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth is the remote or virtual practice of healthcare. This can happen over the phone, but increasingly occurs over video conferencing technology. It often requires the use of specialized telemedicine software platforms that enable secure communication, as well as meeting the other needs that exist when treating patients online.
See More Patients
Telemedicine enables providers to see more patients. For busy practices, it can shorten wait times and time spent preparing patient exam rooms. As some patients transition to telehealth, there are fewer patients being seen at the practice. For slower practices, where patients are avoiding coming into the office and putting off what they perceive as elective appointments, this can enable the practice to increase the number of patients seen compared to relying on who comes in for in-office appointments.
Reduce Transmission Risk
There is no doubt that telehealth remains an important strategy to reduce transmission risk for the pandemic coronavirus. If people do not gather together, especially in enclosed indoor spaces, there is less of a chance of them coming into contact with the virus and spreading it to others in the community. For appointments that could be held over telehealth platforms safely and effectively, there is no reason not to take advantage of reducing transmission risks for both patients and providers.
There are some types of appointments that must occur in person. For example, you cannot biopsy a skin tag or perform a physical examination on a telemedicine platform. For each of these cases, there are dozens of largely consultative appointments that could occur on video. By removing some of the appointments from the office and transitioning them to an online telemedicine platform, doctors and medical staff interact with fewer patients in person. This reduces the opportunities for them to catch or spread the virus to their patients. This also means fewer people in waiting rooms to share the virus with each other and front office staff members.
An often overlooked benefit is that telehealth allows providers to work remotely from their own homes. This means that they can take some time off or at home at a reduced pace of patient care, or work with certain patients while they travel to other areas, without having to come into the office. At first glance, this would seem to violate goals of achieving a healthy work-life balance. However, it provides solution for doctors with some extra freedom and flexibility to practice medicine on their own terms where they are able to do it. Traditionally, this type of flexibility would not be possible in the medical field.
In the pandemic setting, a preventative 14 day quarantine does not mean that a doctor has to be out of patient care entirely. Instead of face-to-face visits, they can engage in telehealth visits. This can be a win-win for everyone during a time of uncertainty and staffing shortages.
Earn More Money
In some ways, telehealth enables medical practices to earn more money, or at least to keep a higher percentage of the money that they generate. First, fewer resources need to be spent on single use supplies, such as gloves and PPE, that in-person office visits require or the staff needed to sanitize and provide patient care. Second, for practices hit by patients cancelling appointments out of fear of virus transmission, telehealth makes it possible to still see patients even under these conditions.
At KitelyTech, we understand how important telehealth is for physicians, nurses, and practices during this time. We strive to make it easier for healthcare practices and networks of all sizes to get access to the telehealth systems that they need to securely and effectively deliver remote healthcare services to patients. Call us at (312) 254-8248 for a consultation.