Telehealth: What is it, and why is it beneficial?

As many in the world are being forced to quarantine, there is a desperate need for an alternative to in-person visits with your physician. Many elective medical appointments are being canceled or postponed until an unknown date as leaving home to go to a clinic or hospital could put many at risk.

What can quarantined patients and providers use as a workaround in the meantime?

Telehealth is a relatively modern healthcare solution, which allows providers to virtually meet with patients to assess their symptoms, prescribe medication, and hopefully provide a diagnosis – all from the safety of their homes.

What are the benefits of telehealth?

Last month, The Trump administration announced an “$8.3 billion emergency funding measure that includes the provision to lift restrictions on telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries.”[1] The Senior population are at the greatest risk of complications if they contract COVID-19. Thankfully, this drastic change in Medicare allows for more seniors to receive care without having to leave their homes and risk exposure.

Additionally, telehealth provides fast turnover in appointment time and much quicker access to specialist consultation. University of Iowa Health Care released a program called eConsult, which includes virtual visits with 16 specialties. This allows for the primary care physician to virtually meet with the patient, then “communicate with, get advice from, and create a care plan with a specialist, eliminating the need for an in-person specialist visit.” [2] UI Health Care also discovered that what might have been a 30-minute consultation in-person is approximately an eight-minute virtual visit. This allows for more patient coverage per day.

“For high-risk individuals who rely on routine medical checkups or are unable to receive healthcare because of COVID-19 restrictions, telehealth becomes an invaluable alternative.” [3] As people are coming to terms with their new reality, healthcare is learning to adapt as well. Telehealth is not only the safest medical alternative, but it’s also efficient and highly accessible. Flattening the curve of the spread of COVID-19 is crucial, and telehealth could be a key part of what makes this possible.

For more studies and findings on telehealth, please read this article from the American Hospital Association. https://www.aha.org/telehealth


[1] Morrison, O. (2020, March 19). Thousands of patients in Pittsburgh region have turned to telemedicine due to coronavirus fears – PublicSource: News for a better Pittsburgh. Retrieved from https://www.publicsource.org/thousands-of-patients-in-pittsburgh-region-have-turned-to-telemedicine-due-to-covid-19-coronavirus-fears/

[2] Pecci, A. W. (2020, March 19). 3 Ways COVID-19 Is Upending the Revenue Cycle. Retrieved from https://www.healthleadersmedia.com/finance/3-ways-covid-19-upending-revenue-cycle

[3] Simon, M. (2020, April 9). Why telehealth is crucial in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Retrieved from https://thehill.com/changing-america/opinion/492079-telehealth-emerging-as-crucial-resource-in-the-fight-against-the

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