With more than three quarters of a million confirmed coronavirus cases across the globe, and the U.S. having overtaken China with the most confirmed cases, healthcare providers have an increased burden to treat both existing and new patients, while adhering to mandated and suggested safety protocols. It is a situation tailor-made for telehealth.
While convenience is often cited as a key telehealth benefit, its immediate impact to healthcare providers and the community at large extends far beyond that, to patient safety and the health of medical professionals. The ability to use non-traditional healthcare delivery to consult and treat patients using video or voice conferencing, secure messaging, mobile or web apps, and alert notifications can help providers react to the current crisis quickly while continuing to treat patients responsibly and effectively.
Here are some of the ways that telehealth can help providers manage increased demand during this pandemic:
- Promote social distancing practices by moving patients who don’t require in-person visits to virtual care alternatives, which may help reduce the spread of the virus in waiting rooms, public transportation systems, elevators, and other vulnerable areas.
- Automated tools, like chatbots and other self-service tools can help streamline patient flow and prioritize patient needs, including those are or think they may be infected.
- Prescreening patients showing COVID-19 symptoms to help ensure they receive appropriate instructions, such as where to go for testing or treatment, how to behave, what precautions to take, and how to generally reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others.
- Monitor infected patients quarantined in healthcare facilities or isolated at home, to reduce risk to medical staff and, by extension, other patients.
- Continue engaging with non-infected patients, including those with chronic conditions who require regular engagement, while reducing their exposure to the disease by using virtual care and remote patient monitoring solutions to treat them in their homes.
- Maximize physician time and exposure by reducing in-office visits and moving patients to efficient telehealth visits, to allow doctors to treat more patients. Virtual care alternatives can also reduce risk to medical professionals by enabling them to consult patients from their own homes.
- Specialists, including therapists and nutritionists can continue treating patients without being in the hospital or clinic.
- Alert patients to changing conditions, remind them of safety protocols and best practices, ensure they know how to seek treatment when needed, and update them on available connected health services and tools and how to use them.
Several telehealth services in the US and China have already reported increased use over the past several months, as the COVID-19 crisis has escalated globally, and the federal government in the U.S has enacted several measures to increase access to and awareness of telehealth to help address this crisis.
To learn more about how telehealth and other connected health technology can help address the COVID-19 pandemic while also helping improve healthcare delivery in the longer term, visit us here.