“Telemedicine was up 53% before COVID-19 year over year”

Telemedicine has been experiencing an escalating slow burn for years as more and more doctors and hospitals begin to offer it. In 2020 demand for Telemedicine has taken off like a rocket. While the COVID-19 may have lit the fuse most expect that an increased demand for telehealth visits is here to stay.

For providers, this means that now is a great time to add telemedicine to your menu of services.

“According to a survey conducted by Accenture, 60% of patients who used virtual care for the first time due to COVID-19 would want to use telehealth technology more in the future.“

As many Americans continue to practice social distancing and look for ways to reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19 their interest in virtual healthcare is at an all-time high.

Many patients are more receptive to the idea of telemedicine than ever before. They are also motivated to be successful when trying telehealth technology out for the first time. They are more patient with, and more willing to work through, any technical issues.

While telehealth can never replace in-person care there are many specialties where telemedicine is particularly suited.

Telepsychiatry or Mental Health Using Telemedicine

“Some mental health providers expect up to 50% of future visits to be via telehealth”

Many providers using telemedicine for the first time during the pandemic found that patients’ response was positive. Telemedicine has been a growing resource in the field of mental health for well over a decade.

Americans are becoming experienced using video conferencing and video technology in both their professional and personal lives. The opportunity to access mental health care remotely offers increased access to support for many mental health patients. It removes barriers of distance, home responsibilities that may make it difficult to get away, and concerns about privacy.

Services such as patient evaluation, medication management, remote patient monitoring, and even mental health counseling can all be handled using telehealth technology.

Telemedicine for Primary Care

“Nearly 75% of doctor’s visits could be handled with telemedicine.”

Studies have found that many in-person visits to the doctor could be handled using HIPAA compliant secure video conferencing for virtual visits.

When patients have an established relationship with their primary care doctor a trust is already in place. Using telehealth technology patients can access care with the doctor they know and who knows them when health issues come up.

Follow up visits after a regular check-up, medication monitoring and prescription renewals, and care for chronic conditions can often be handled with telemedicine. Many concerns that would send patients to the doctor like seasonal colds and flu and minor health concerns can also be assessed and even resolved through a telehealth video conference.

Telemedicine for Women’s Health

“Women are quicker than men to adopt telemedicine. Prior to COVID-19 women were responsible for ⅔’s of telehealth claims.”

Women’s health is a broad field of medicine that includes everything from puberty to maternal health to menopause. Many issues are private or uncomfortable and the opportunity to avoid a trip into the doctor’s office may be a welcome alternative.

Many women’s health services can be provided using telehealth technology. Prescription renewals and adjustments and follow-up discussion of test results from in-office appointments can be handled through secure video conferencing. Chronic conditions common in pregnancy that require regular monitoring can be managed remotely. Family planning and follow-up postpartum care can also benefit from the use of telehealth technology.

Teledermatology

“38% of Dermatologists nationwide feel that their area is underserved in the specialty.”

With widespread shortages of dermatologists, many areas are underserved in this important specialty. Skin conditions can be uncomfortable or embarrassing. Some skin cancers, like melanoma, can even be life-threatening.

Telemedicine allows for increased access to dermatologists and can reduce wait times for appointments. Even in well-served cities, patients wait an average of 4 weeks for an appointment with a dermatologist.

The specialty of dermatology is particularly suited to the use of telemedicine. With secure high-definition video conferencing and photo transmission capabilities, doctors can assess, monitor, and even diagnose conditions without the patient needing to make a trip into the office.

Dermatologists can use telemedicine to review images of skin conditions, manage ongoing concerns, monitor changes in skin conditions remotely, and provide follow-up care.

Telemedicine for Pediatric Care

“Easier access for parents means greater access to care for children.”

Kids need to see the doctor a lot. Their immune systems are still immature, they are exposed to a wide variety of germs, they put things they shouldn’t into their mouths and they are impulsive and prone to accidents and injuries in their daily life.

The need to get a child to the doctor unexpectedly can pose a challenge to busy working parents.

It is also an unwelcome endeavor when a child is ill at home. Telemedicine can offer an alternative allowing Pediatric doctors an opportunity to diagnose many childhood illnesses and advise parents on treatment while allowing sick kids to remain in the comfort of their own home.

It can also provide pediatricians a chance to assess acute conditions or injuries and direct parents in the next steps. If in-person or emergency care is needed doctors can direct parents while if it is not parents can be reassured and avoid unnecessary trips to the emergency room.

Telemedicine for Urgent Care

According to medicaleconomics.com “Urgent care clinics handle about 89 million patient visits each year, or more than 29% of all primary care visits in the country, and nearly 15% of all outpatient physician visits”

Many Americans rely on urgent care centers for some part of their healthcare needs. According to an article by Consumer Reports between 2014 and 2018, The number of urgent care facilities increased from 6,400 to 8,100 nationwide.

Many visits to urgent care centers can be handled using a HIPAA compliant secure video conferencing platform.

With telehealth technology, doctors can diagnose common ailments like colds and flu, assess acute issues and advise patients on home treatment or a need for in-person care. They can also provide prescriptions for medication or refill existing prescriptions when needed saving patient’s long waits and the inconvenience of going out to an urgent care center.