Telemedicine got a shot in the arm from the pandemic.
Having patients connect with their healthcare providers via a computer or phone frees up resources and eliminates the chance of picking up COVID-19 at the doctor’s office.
Early in the pandemic, the federal government eased telemedicine restrictions on Medicare patients and providers. The result: More than 9 million beneficiaries received telehealth services between mid-March and mid-June, according to the website Health Affairs, which reviewed Medicare data.
The website reported the number of Medicare patients receiving telemedicine services per week went from 13,000 before the pandemic to 1.7 million per week in late April.
In Nevada, state officials promoted telemedicine for recipients of Medicaid, the low-income healthcare program, according to Christine Zack, CEO of Capability Health, who recently gave a TEDx Reno presentation on telemedicine.
“Medicaid here in Nevada also issued waivers, and, in fact, was even more expansive in their waivers than Medicare was,” Zack told State of Nevada.
She said some patients respond better to remote visits, citing a young girl who was shy when visited by a speech therapist but communicated freely online.
“Telehealth removed that physical presence of the healthcare provider and allowed the child to behave more naturally, and allowed the therapist and physicians to provide more appropriate feedback,” Zack said.
The healthcare community is learning along with patients on how to get the most out of telemedicine, said Christina Madison, a Roseman University professor and public health expert.
“In general, there has been large adoption of telehealth resources, but there are still some areas like mental health where that physical presence of the person may be more beneficial,” Madison said.
She added there is a developing telehealth “etiquette, for not just the provider but also for the patient.”
Madison said patients looking to make the most of their virtual visit should:
Christine Zack, CEO, Capability Health; Christina Madison, Roseman University professor, public health expert
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