TELEHEALTH IS BOOMING TODAY AND WILL BE INVALUABLE IN HEALTHCARE MOVING FORWARD
Change is a constant occurrence in everyone's life on an almost daily basis. The faster we are able to adapt to change, the better off we usually are in the long run. So when something negative, like the coronavirus pandemic, causes us to change the way we go about our normal business, it is possible, and often the case, that some positives come out of a negative situation. That is the case today with TELEHEALTH!
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) defines telehealth as "the use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical healthcare, patient, and professional health-related education, public health and health administration."
Telehealth is not a new service. In fact, a variety of telehealth services has been around for quite some time with minimal usage. However, recently, when doctors' offices and healthcare providers/hospitals closed or took steps to reduce the number of people gathering in one place to help minimize the spread of the coronavirus to patients, telehealth options boomed in popularity. To further maximize its use, private and government health plans removed restrictions and added reimbursements for more telehealth services.
A quote from BluMine's Chief Medical Director, Dr. Eric Yazel, "The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge for all healthcare delivery organizations. BluMine Health was able to balance the importance of maintaining uninterrupted service with fostering a safe practice environment for our own team members by telehealth services. Using this technology our providers were able to rapidly evaluate our patients and either treat them immediately or determine the appropriate path for further evaluation, which ensures efficient and judicious healthcare resource utilization. This rapid adaptability to meet the needs of our clients even in some of the most difficult circumstances underscores BluMine Health's dedication to provide the highest quality of service to their clients."
Telehealth might include but is not limited to:
It is a common belief among the healthcare community that telehealth will:
The use of telehealth provides us with a real WIN WIN situation now and into the future. As technology continues to advance so will its significant impact on the way healthcare is delivered.
BluMine Health President and CEO Michael Dees was recently quoted in a statewide medical publication saying that "Prior to COVID-19, telehealth appointments were less than four percent of the care delivery that BluMine members experienced. The exclusivity of your own primary care medical team commanded face-to-face appointments and the customer care that went along with that. Telehealth appointments have now surpassed 40% of BluMine's medical delivery. BluMine's access and care exclusivity has not seen a dramatic drop off in medical delivery, just a shift in how care is provided." Telehealth has been invaluable in continuing to provide patient care in these uncharted times.
NOTE: Don't confuse the two terms -- Telehealth and Telemedicine. They are often intertwined but they do not have the same definition. Telemedicine refers specifically to remote interactive health communications with clinicians on both ends of the exchange. Telehealth refers to a broader scope of remote healthcare services.