The COVID-19 pandemic affected people on many levels. Physicians and their practices were one of the most touched by the changes Coronavirus implied, and along with them, a lot of patients suffered from lack of medical care. A study conducted by The Medical Group Management Association showed that at the end of April, 97% of medical practices were financially affected negatively by the pandemic. This result appears because both patient volume
(60%) and revenue (55%) decreased. Thus, many practices found themselves in the position of firing staff or even closing their doors for an unlimited period.
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Despite the troublesome start, telemedicine and telehealth solutions forced their way through the pandemic. At first, doctors didn’t know how to price their new consults, but with time they adapted to this method.
Telehealth and telemedicine
Telehealth software is a way in which professionals can deliver a broad range of health services remotely, by using telecommunication technology. Telemedicine usually focuses on clinical services, while telehealth offers services for both educating the staff and the patients, and monitoring patients’ recovery.
Telehealth during COVID-19 pandemic
Merritt Hawkins is a search company which conducted a study on how did the epidemic affected telehealth and found out that nearly half of physicians are using this alternative to continue treating their patients. As expected, the numbers increased since 2018, when only 18% of doctors used telemedicine.
The pandemic is a source of various issues, but it also benefited telehealth, by making people pay more attention to it and involving in its development:
- Centres for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has agreed to pay the virtual visit at the same rate as physical ones as long as the pandemic continues;
- Various association have aligned to reduce the barriers that limited telehealth. The Physicians Foundation, American Medical Association, Florida Medical Association, Massachusetts Medical Society and Texas Medical Association initiated a program called “The Telehealth Initiative” that aims to help physicians adapt their practice to the current situation.
- FCC announced to award $3.7 million in grants to aid COVID-19 telehealth deployment to five healthcare companies.
- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has suspended different rules that were regulating telehealth for physicians to offer better care to people from rural areas without having to travel there.
Turning to Healthcare Software
At the moment, the main reason for turning to telehealth is to avoid spreading the virus. People won’t come to the hospital or the clinic when people are getting tested for Coronavirus. Instead, they will use the new methods to access medical care, particularly if the problem is not an emergency. At the same time, people are staying at home, avoiding exposure.
There are also benefits for both the patient and the provider:
- For the patient:
Telehealth improves the quality of medical care by making the process more efficient in receiving consults and treatment. By using telehealth, patient saves both time and money travelling to the clinic, which is helpful, especially for those living in rural areas. Above that, being in your home in a difficult time, either not feeling good or because there is a virus spreading rapidly, reduces a significant amount of stress. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center conducted a study which proved that 40% of patients would have neglected their health to avoid travelling if there was no access to virtual visits.
- For the provider:
Providers will manage the consults more efficiently, avoiding burnout due to frequent communication with the patient. Furthermore, they will be able to receive training through these platforms, without having to go to certain areas to get the education they need. Providers will manage the consults more efficiently, avoiding burnout due to frequent communication with the patient. Furthermore, they will be able to receive training through these platforms, without having to go to certain areas to get the education they need.
How to Choose the Best Software for your Practice
By making a telehealth software comparison, I have created a short list of the most important things to look for and the best solutions on the market.
- The telemedicine platform’s cost is a significant factor when choosing between various platforms, with different features and benefits. Usually, selecting the smallest price is not a wise decision, but neither is deciding over the most expensive vendor out there. Practic es should focus on a medium expense and qualitative, personalized services.
- Integrations and adapting should be two of the biggest concerns when considering turning to a telehealth platform. Practices should make sure the software suits their model, and that it will be easy to teach the staff to use it. Our telehealth solution is easy to adapt and feature rich.
- If there is one thing you should not ignore when considering vendors is to orientate over HIPAA compliant telehealth platforms.
The General Impact of Coronavirus on Patient Care
As the world deals with a physician shortage, COVID-19 has accelerated the process even more. Merritt Hawkins study has also discovered that 18% of physicians plan on temporarily retiring and close their practices or even permanently step out of the patient care industry. The shortage might be a more severe problem if telehealth won’t become more widely spread.
While COVID-19 patients are a priority right now, the usual patients in the clinics and won’t get the care they need unless they will contact the physician virtually. Indeed, physician and researchers can feel the change. Mehrotra, a health policy researcher at Harvard Medical School, MD, MPH, and a hospitalist at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital has claimed that approximately 14% to 15% of all visits are now telemedicine. “A change that I would over a decade happened in a month”, he said.
Of course, these statistics are concerning which determined various organisations and practices to fight for better telehealth programs and fewer barriers when it comes to initiating such projects within the practice. These initiatives might change the future of medicine and might also become a start in better access to physicians services for patients.
Know how our Caretime Md – Telehealth Solution can help your medical practice to Improve healthcare quality and Increase practice revenue.