Now that the majority of the population of the entire world has been placed under some form of restricted movement in order to help with combating the spread of COVID-19, we are seeing just how fully underprepared many of us would be in terms of how daily life would change for the time being. The same thing can be said for many of the individuals who work in the healthcare industry as well.
When it comes to going for weeks or even months without treatment of any kind, this is something that is absolutely not an option for patients. Additionally, physicians won’t be able to sustain their own practices on decreased revenues for a reduced amount of time. Business will need to eventually return to at least close to normal as soon as it possibly can, with the alternative being finding a suitable and safe option that can be utilized in the meantime.
Perhaps the most practical solution is that of telemedicine services, which involves both diagnosing and treating patients via either phone calls or video conferencing. An option such as this, however, requires specific technological and regulatory infrastructure, which will enable patients to keep obtaining all of the necessary care that they require. Additionally, practices will be able to recover partial amounts of the revenue that they have lost due to events such as what the world is currently experiencing with COVID-19.
Telemedicine is not necessarily a brand new concept when it comes to research; however, it is considered to be new to all sorts of field-based providers, as well as whole fields of care. For instance, physical therapy is now experiencing the world of telemedicine for the very first time thanks to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, Aetna and UnitedHealthcare, which are two of only some of the country’s largest insurers, announced this month that they would be temporarily reimbursing for telehealth services involving physical therapy.
Additionally, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services also recently recognized the need to expand telehealth services in a rapid manner, which, as a result, led them to implement policy changes in order to allow this for the duration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. Previously, Medicare was only able to pay for telehealth services for those patients who were living in designated rural areas; however, those specific guidelines have now been relaxed, which means Medicare is now able to cover services for even more patients, such as routine evaluation and management visits.
The United States Department of Health & Human Services further notes that covered providers who wish to provide telehealth services will also be able to use any non-public facing remote communication product in order to communicate with their patients. This means that in order to ensure privacy, physicians should consider looking into communication services that provide channels that are two-way, password-protected, closed, and non-public.
It’s also equally as important for providers to possess the proper information technology in addition to the proper patient communication technology, meaning that providers need to take the time to ensure their own remote access to every bit of information that they need so that they can provide their patients with the best care possible.
All sorts of challenges exist when it comes to solving the present landscape involving healthcare, which includes the following:
*The overall need for adequate amounts of training
*Clarity on both data handling and data ownership
*The overall ability to scale up in order to provide larger-sized patient populations with either therapeutic or routine care
All healthcare practices should have dashboards that measure not just quality of care, but also patient outcomes and impact. Furthermore, they should also maintain revenue and continue to employ all of the members of their staff. And of course, they should also keep doing everything possible in order to continue slowing the spread of COVID-19 as well.
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