COVID-19 and Telemedicine
As the impact of COVID-19 began to sweep across the country last month many of you quickly jumped into action to ramp-up delivery of care utilizing telemedicine technologies. To accommodate the shift to telemedicine, here at MedicalGPS we did the same; we jumped into action to allow you to gather feedback from your patients using telemedicine technologies.
The MedicalGPS team quickly upgraded M3-Patient Experience® to allow patients to select “Telehealth Visit” as their visit type and deployed a Telehealth Questionnaire, resulting in you and your team having real-time feedback related to your patients’ telehealth experience.
Most, if not all, of our clients continue to see significant increases in telemedicine visits as the COVID-19 situation remains at the forefront of everything we do. To that end, I want to dedicate this week’s Thinking Thursdays TIPs to sharing useful information, relative to telemedicine, and the ‘new normal’.
As pointed out in a recent article by mobilehealthnews, the demand for telemedicine has accelerated from a relatively slow adoption to a fast pace rapid implementation, all within the last few weeks.
The arsenal of telemedicine technologies, once thought to be only a futuristic dream, are now major weapons in managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Telemedicine is reducing healthcare-related COVID-19 transmissions and helping to protect those of you on the front-lines, as we each battle COVID-19 in every way possible.
Telemedicine is Personal
As the father of a daughter with type-1 diabetes, (my older daughter Emily was diagnosed when she was 9-years-old back in 1991), the effectiveness of telemedicine seems especially promising, in a very personal way. I can only imagine the same promise is true in the fight against other chronic diseases.
Based on an article by AMA titled, “Which medical specialties use telemedicine the most?”, published in January of 2019, the specialists that made the most use of telemedicine were: Radiologists at 39.5 percent, Psychiatrists at 27.8 percent, and Cardiologists at 24.1 percent.
That 2019 telemedicine statistic was just blown completely out of the water as the fight against COVID-19 has reached unprecedented levels.
In the article titled, “Telehealth visits are booming as doctors and patients embrace distancing amid the coronavirus crisis”, PUBLISHED SAT, APR 4 20209:16 AM EDT by Bertha Coombs, the rapid adoption rate of telemedicine was summed up as follows.
“It’s a profound change, and it’s faster than anything I’ve ever seen,” said Dr. Bob Murry, chief medical information officer at telehealth-platform provider NextGen Healthcare.
According to the “AMA quick guide to telemedicine in practice”, there are at least four primary technologies that make up the continuum of technologies we refer to as Telemedicine.
- Real-time, audio-video communication tools (telehealth) that connect physicians and patients in different locations.
- Store-and-forward technologies that collect images and data to be transmitted and interpreted later.
- Remote patient-monitoring tools such as blood pressure monitors, Bluetooth-enabled digital scales and other wearable devices that can communicate biometric data for review (which may involve the use of mHealth apps).
- Verbal/Audio-only and virtual check-ins via patient portals, messaging technologies, and telephone.
The same AMA resource is divided into four separate areas, each of which may be beneficial to you and your team.
- An overview of telemedicine and safe management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Practice implementation of telemedicine including; getting started, selecting a vendor, and of course workflow and patient care.
- Telemedicine payment policies, licensure, and CMS’ recent expanded access regarding telemedicine services to all Medicare beneficiaries.
- Links to other telemedicine resources that may be useful.
By the end of 2020, at the current pace, more than 1 billion telemedicine visits will have been logged, according to Forrester Research.
The ‘New Normal”
We hear it every day, “COVID-19 has altered our way of life, so much so that we’re living through the rapid transition toward the ‘new normal’ ”.
Nobody knows exactly what that ‘new normal’ will look like, but we know it will be very different from the old normal.
The forced adoption of telemedicine will be just one aspect of the ‘new normal’. As much as it hurts sometimes to experience change, I truly believe we will adapt.
As we continue this slowed pace, we have an opportunity to embrace the ‘new normal’ and all the benefits that come with a slower, more intentional, way of life. All we must do is simply look around for those hidden opportunities and blessings.
I have hope that YOU will begin to experience the benefits, joys, and a sense of renewed contentment that the ‘new normal’ brings your way, especially as we get past the pandemic and win the fight against COVID-19. Living in the new ‘new normal’ can be a good thing – even a great thing — if we just let it.
Embracing the ‘New Normal’
To close out this week’s Thinking Thursdays TIPs, I share with you a recent Facebook post, posted by my younger daughter Amanda.
Amanda is the amazing mom of four of my six wonderful grandchildren and is married to her husband Ian, who is amazing in his own right.
Even at a very young age we noticed Amanda had a special gift of writing. Amanda can express herself via the written word in a way that I, and many others, truly admire. I hope you too enjoy Amanda’s take on our ‘new normal’, which is unfolding before our very eyes.
“This forced slowdown has awakened all of my feelings of gratitude! It takes so little now to inspire a heart of thankfulness. I feel like I was desensitized to so many wonderful things around me, too busy to literally stop and smell the roses. A walk with my family, a good workout, a community of people who fight to stay connected, a patient husband, a snuggle with my pup, footed jammies, dance parties, wild flowers, a home cooked meal, Sonic, sidewalk chalk, and so much more! I’m loving this new outlook and I pray it never goes away even after things go back to “normal.” #coronacation #grateful #abundantlife”
I have to agree with Amanda. I too am hopeful that the ‘new normal’ brings with it special blessings to YOU, your co-workers, and your families and dearest friends!
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Jerry L. Stone
(1) “Boundaries Updated and Expanded Edition: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life”, by by Henry Cloud (Author), John Townsend (Author)