The COVID-19 Outbreak Has Changed The Face Of Telemedicine, And There’s No Turning Back

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You probably think of Zoom calls with your doctor or therapist when you think about telemedicine or telehealth.

However, the word has been around since the mid-twentieth century, when two-way televisions were initially used to conduct video consultations and radios were used to deliver medical advice to patients on ships.

High Demand For Telemedicine in Today’s World

During the COVID-19 outbreak, telemedicine usage surged, and the trend is likely to continue.

A pandemic of this magnitude puts a burden on hospital capacity. People with chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes are unlikely to choose to risk their lives in a hospital setting.

Telemedicine, virtual medical visits, and other digital health technology can help in this situation.

Telemedicine is in high demand in some of the country’s most prestigious health institutions. Doctors have essentially crossed the Rubicon.

This modern digital paradigm also applies to COVID-19. Patients with COVID-19 who aren’t sick enough to be admitted to the hospital, for instance, are now monitored remotely in their own homes.

The pandemic’s long-term effects will only serve to perpetuate the trend. Everything has altered tremendously, and there is no going back.

Telemedicine Being Pushed by the Federal and State Governments

Regulatory limits on the use of telemedicine at the federal and state levels, notably over Medicare funding, were hurdles to the industry’s continued expansion, even though it had been developing before the outbreak.

Earlier, less than 1% of Medicare enrollees had access to reimbursable virtual treatment.

These limitations were temporarily relaxed after the US declared a public health emergency in March 2020.

Many state legislatures have pushed to pass telemedicine changes, among the most effective state legislative moves in telehealth history.

Obstacles Facing Telemedicine

Despite the numerous possibilities, there are still obstacles to overcome.

For example, if rural regions with a scarcity of hospitals opt for telemedicine, the internet infrastructure to support virtual visits will need to be created.

Telemedicine also faces policy problems, which is why the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) has formed a new Government Relations Special Interest Group (SIG).

The group was formed in response to the necessity to cope with the rapid expansion of telehealth, bringing together viewpoints from all over the healthcare continuum.

This will ensure permanent access to low-cost digital health services.

Telemental Health Services

While telehealth has many applications, none are more widely acknowledged and recognized than mental and behavioral health.

Virtual visits are more successful than in-person therapy for addressing mental health issues in some situations.

It has become one of the most prominent and influential ways for doctors and patients to seek mental health treatment.

And the outbreak has made it more critical than ever to broaden telehealth to incorporate mental health treatments.

However, while the outbreak has raised mental health needs throughout the country, the number of mental health care professionals has declined, necessitating the use of telemedicine.

A few regions are in complete mental health droughts, with no healthcare providers.

It is especially true for all forms of health care services in rural towns, as seen by the number of rural hospitals that have shut down in recent years.

Parting Note

Telemedicine is not a cure-all and never will be. However, many Americans believe it may supplement regular visits and improve their health, particularly mental health.

Telehealth isn’t acceptable in many situations. But let’s put our faith in our certified medical experts to know the standard of care and how to apply it to the patient’s specific needs in every given situation.

Let’s not second-guess the medical professional’s decision while keeping in mind that if something goes wrong, there are layers of responsibility in place at the federal and state levels.