Why Practices Should Still Utilize Telehealth Amid COVID-19
COVID-19 prompted a widespread adoption of telehealth solutions across the country. Pro...
Although telehealth technology has existed in some capacity for several years now, claims for telehealth use have struggled to grow until this past year. For patients insured privately in the United States, the use of telehealth has grown dramatically. Between March of 2019 to March of 2020, claims grew nationally from 0.17 percent of medical claims to a heaping 7.52 percent. This data excludes claims filed under Medicare and Medicaid and only applied to privately insured US citizens. This large climb in telehealth claims is thought, by many, to be a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with claims in the Northeast growing from 0.07 percent to 11.07 percent since last year. Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States at the beginning of March 2020, the growth of telehealth claims was much lower.
While telehealth usage was already starting to grow prior to the pandemic, COVID-19 prompted a huge wave of adaptation and use of the technology across the country. With person-to-person interactions restricted to limit the spread of the coronavirus, providers and patients everywhere turned to virtual visit technology to continue care and communication through the duration of the pandemic. The technology enables providers and patients to continue visiting with one another without risking the transmission of the virus. What many are finding to be the impact of this wave of implementation is that patients are starting to prefer telehealth to traditional office visits and on-site care.
Telehealth Opens a New Window into Care Access for Patients
The implementation of telehealth into any medical organization creates a window of opportunity for patients everywhere to change the way they engage their providers. Proven incredibly useful during the COVID-19 pandemic, this technology has made it possible for patients to stay safe in their homes amid social distancing regulations and shelter-in-place restrictions. It has enabled chronically ill patients to still receive the care they depend on and even receive some care from the comfort of their homes.
Once the pandemic is over, it is expected that many of the patients who used telehealth for the first time during COVID-19 will continue to engage their providers in this way. With more flexibility in their scheduling, care, and remote opportunities, telehealth makes staying engaged with a provider much simpler.
For example, patients living in rural areas are less likely to visit with their provider if it involves a long drive or taking time off work. Telehealth opens a window for these patients to continue receiving important medical attention without having to take time away from their daily life.
The recent exposure of telehealth to patients across the country has educated many on the usefulness, convenience, and flexibility that the technology offers, giving them yet another tool to use in the future of their care.
Coronavirus restrictions have begun being lifted in many states, does this mean that patients will return to in-person visits? It might for some. But, until a solution to the virus is found, many patients are still turning to virtual visits as a way to stay safe.
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