Is Telemedicine the New Normal?
As the need for in-home healthcare services skyrockets due to the novel Coronavirus, more and more doctors and patients are connecting with each other online. And more and more patients are turning to their doctors to ask, What is telemedicine? and How can I get a telemedicine appointment?
From telephone and video calls to innovative new web platforms, telehealth may well just be the new normal. Telehealth is not a new practice, but it is one that in the past has been met with some reluctance by insurance providers. However, the growing demand for patients to be treated for chronic illnesses without stepping foot into a healthcare center is dramatically highlighted by the pandemic.
To keep patients out of waiting rooms and limit the spread of the disease, physicians, insurers, and state and federal regulators are now pushing for the expansion of telemedicine, whereas before this technology was met by many with some degree of skepticism.
Telemedicine allows you to speak with your doctor in real time to discuss symptoms, medical issues, and more. With telemedicine, you can be diagnosed, learn about treatment options, and get prescriptions all without leaving your home.
In cases of chronic illness, such as with patients recovering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), and diabetes, doctors can monitor readings from medical devices you have at home. This allows your practitioner to keep a close eye on your condition and become aware of any issues right away. Seniors are at the forefront of these new technologies, as they tend to interact with their healthcare providers more often than the younger population and thus require greater numbers of telemedicine appointments.
What Is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine doesn’t mean that you’ll never go to a doctor’s office. However, it does make care more accessible and, in some cases, more affordable. You may also appreciate the benefit of reduced time traveling to appointments and waiting in offices. Ultimately, telemedicine consists of three main parts:
- Real-time communication: This is sometimes called “live telemedicine,” and it allows patients and physicians to speak directly in a virtual appointment setting.
- Remote patient monitoring: This allows healthcare professionals to monitor patients who use mobile medical equipment to collect data on things like blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and more.
- Patient information: Healthcare providers can use technology to share a patient’s health information with other healthcare professionals or specialists.
There is a difference between telemedicine and telehealth, although it is a bit nuanced to get into. When asked What is telemedicine?, the World Health Organization (WHO) gives the definition of “healing from a distance.” With telemedicine, seniors and others can receive treatment without needing to schedule appointments or physically go into doctors’ offices to get the care they need.
Telehealth is more broadly described as the use of electronic information and technology to support at-home healthcare. This can include patient education, scheduling, and education for doctors and physicians.
Does Insurance Cover My Telemedicine Appointment?
Due to COVID-19, costs for telemedicine services are going down. As this new type of healthcare gains popularity throughout America, many health insurance plans are beginning to offer coverage for telemedicine visits. More states are adopting laws that require health insurance plans to reimburse telemedicine visits at the same rate as in-person doctor visits. Check your plan’s benefits before using telemedicine to understand what will be covered and what you will be responsible for paying.
Medicare and Medicaid offer reimbursement for telemedicine services as long as the services meet all federal requirements and eligibility.
How Do I Make a Telemedicine Appointment?
If you want to know if your current healthcare provider offers telemedicine, the best way to find out is to get in touch with your doctor. He or she can tell you what programs are available and how you can access them. Your doctor also can help you find the program that best suits your needs.
More and more offices are offering these programs in light of the current health crisis. No one understands better than healthcare workers how important it is to keep seniors and others at home if they are not experiencing medical emergencies or have urgent needs for in-person visits or treatments. Doctors and patients understand that technologies are here to help us get healthcare from home during these difficult times.
Cano Health offers many services for patients, including telemedicine for existing patients. Contact your local office to find out what program is best for you. You can learn more about the services offered and the associated costs via our website.
Is Telemedicine the New Normal?
Doctors are now thinking in very different ways about how best to serve their patients. COVID-19 has made telemedicine appointments commonplace for many. It has taught many patients how to use online tools and devices to communicate with their doctors and monitor their symptoms and medications. It seems hopeful that much of the convenience and efficacy of telemedicine will outlast the actual need for seniors and others to remain in their homes unless they are seeking urgent care.
Telemedicine can continue to be an important part of the healthcare system in the United States in a post-Coronavirus environment. Of course, telemedicine won’t replace all in-person visits, but as a supplement to routine in-person medical visits, telemedicine could prove beneficial for all.
>>> Contact us today at 855.CANOMED (855.226.6633) to learn more about our telemedicine services or to schedule an appointment.