The Rise of Telemedicine In a Post-COVID World

It seems unlikely that we will ever live in a truly "post-COVID world." In mid-2020, we imagined...

It seems unlikely that we will ever live in a truly "post-COVID world." In mid-2020, we imagined that "flattening the curve" and developing a vaccine would bring about a return to the way things were before COVID-19 changed the way we shop, visit doctors, interact, and travel. Instead, the world is learning to live with the coronavirus, and its mutating forms, adapting and learning along the way.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the medical industry. In addition to being on the frontlines as thousands sought treatment for COVID-19 and COVID-related illnesses, doctors, nurses, and all healthcare workers have forged new ways of delivering necessary care while keeping themselves and their patients safe.

Telemedicine During a Pandemic

In the early days of the pandemic, many non- COVID-19 patients elected to cancel or postpone doctor's visits out of fear of exposure. Additionally, stay-at-home orders, public transportation challenges, and social distancing guidelines made it difficult even for those who wished to maintain care. 

aAs a result, mny doctors' offices elected to incorporate telemedicine into their practices - whether that meant using a video-based online tool or just a simple phone call. The key was maintaining a connection with their patients during a challenging time.

Dr. Ada Stewart, a family physician at Eau Claire Cooperative Health Centers in Columbia, SC, and president of the American Academy of Family Physicians reports that after adding telemedicine to her practice, "People were able to receive access to healthcare. We were able to reach out to our patients who were afraid to come into the office to be seen. It really afforded that opportunity to still take care of our patients and do so in a safe way."

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, telemedicine uses technology to deliver care from a distance, such as using a secure video chat service to meet with a doctor virtually. Telehealth is the technology and services that provide that distance care – such as a wearable sensor that monitors vital statistics and delivers the results to a healthcare provider. Therefore, a doctor may use telehealth tools to support a telemedicine practice.

These critical distinctions have allowed the industry to adapt to support this new way of practicing medicine.

Support for Telemedicine

As stay-at-home orders were put in place, insurance payers quickly pivoted to relax restrictions on telemedicine. This change allowed patients to receive care from a distance and continues to play a significant role in the growth of telemedicine. 

In fact, both Medicare and Medicaid recently added CPT billing codes that support reimbursement for remote patient monitoring. This change allowed many patients to access telemedicine services supported by telehealth products.

Remote patient monitoring and telemedicine support of traditional medical care. Virtual visits allow doctors to cut down on travel and spend more time caring for patients. Additionally, patients gain access to doctors outside of their geographical location, which is especially critical to patients facing rare conditions for which few specialists exist.

Deidre Keeves, the director of Connected Health Applications at UCLA Health, is confident about the future of telehealth. "We think telehealth is here to stay. Our patients are expecting it. Our doctors are very happy with it, and it's a great avenue for care. We are expecting that about 20% of our volume is going to continue to be through telehealth."

Remote client monitoring devices, like CareMate, provide doctors, nurses, healthcare providers, and loved ones with the information they need to make informed decisions, whether in a telemedicine or in-office setting. 

Robust and accurate reporting of vital statistics allows doctors to understand how patients feel outside of the visit and recognize trends and may provide early diagnosis of illnesses.

CareMate is uniquely positioned to serve as a link between patients, loved ones, and healthcare providers. By providing customizable reporting and data with a discreet wearable, CareMate supports the changing landscape of healthcare.

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