The COVID-19 outbreak has caused modern medicine to speed up its innovation in numerous ways. One of the most important is the utilization of telemedicine, which permits healthcare providers to interact with patients without having to be in the same physical space. Although this technology has been under development for many years, the current contagion makes it a vital part of the world healthcare system’s response to this daunting challenge.
The aim is simple to understand, especially in light of a pandemic that is spread so easily from person to person. If the patients get all of the doctors sick, then there will be no one left to provide care. That means that, to whatever extent possible, healthcare workers must find a way to provide treatment at a distance. Telehealth is how this gets done.
The complexities of the healthcare system have slowed the growth of telehealth before the current crisis because doctors in many places could not be paid for treating patients that were not in their physical presence. Now, regulations are being rolled back to allow this vital technology to come online immediately. The good news is that the technology is already in most people’s hands. So long as individuals have an internet connection over which they can conduct a video call, they have what they need to obtain telehealth services.
The next question is how these services are administered and how far doctors and other healthcare providers can go with treating people at a distance. According to doctors, most walk-in concerns can be dealt with at a distance, so long as the care provider has an opportunity to have meaningful, real-time interaction with the patient. The doctor can see how the patient’s symptoms are presented, both by means of description and the patient’s physical appearance.
With telehealth, doctors stay safe while patients get help. The fact that the technology already exists and is something many people are already comfortable with makes for easy implementation. Care providers can triage more people more quickly and get meaningful data that helps them make informed decisions about who needs to come to the hospital and who should stay home.