Physician practices, like all other business models, are confronting a health and economic crisis of unprecedented proportions. In addition to the business and economic impact felt by all other industries, healthcare providers face care delivery challenges that continue to evolve.
How are medical practices coping with the spread of COVID-19? One of the biggest changes is in our operational workflows, which now include new telehealth models.
How can telemedicine help your practice and the patients you serve? We have five-suggestions on how telemedicine can benefit your medical practice during the coronavirus pandemic.
Solving Unprecedented Problems with Telehealth
“Physician practices managing patients during the COVID-19 pandemic are confronting new and unique operational and business challenges.”
Telemedicine is the use of common digital tools such as your smartphone, desktop, or tablet to provide clinical care via the Internet. The technology can be simple and quick to implement. Resources such as SpringHealthLive offer an online HIPAA-compliant application suitable for any practice. The telehealth tool is modeled upon software-as-a-service (SaaS); for a low per-doctor monthly subscription rate, any clinical provider can leverage telemedicine quickly and efficiently.
Multiple healthcare organizations recognize that telehealth is a critical part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Medical Economics published “COVID-19 and Telehealth: Technology Can Help Us Triage a Nation in Crisis.”
- Medscape reports “Telehealth Seen as a Key Tool to Help Fight COVID-19.”
- CMS broadened access to telehealth reimbursement during COVID epidemic.
- The CDC recommends telehealth to improve patient care and slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Why have these organizations been quick to endorse a technology tool that places a computer screen firmly between the service provider and client in what some would consider a digression from the traditional trusted doctor/patient relationship? The answer is that telemedicine, proven technology for more than five decades, is the perfect tool to provide care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are five-ways telehealth can help even the smallest practice protect their patients and providers from the spread of the coronavirus.
Telehealth Benefits for Your Practice
“Keeping people apart is called ‘social distancing.’ Keeping healthcare providers apart from patients and other providers is “medical distancing.” Telehealth is one strategy to help us accomplish this.”
Harvard Medical School
1. Telehealth lessens the risk for chronic care patients.
Mitigating the risk of exposure and slowing the spread of the coronavirus should be our number one goal right now. As our state of emergency lengthens, it will continue to be imperative that medical practice providers establish and follow care delivery guidelines to lessen risk.
The dilemma is that many of our patients suffer from chronic, long-term illnesses that require regular treatment and monitoring. Telehealth allows remote monitoring of these patients, connecting them to clinical care providers via a digital application. These tools allow proper clinical care of long-term illnesses without exposing an already at-risk population to other patients in your practice or ER waiting room.
2. Telemedicine can slow the spread of the virus.
This benefit should be obvious; if staying home slows the spread of the virus, then practice patients should seek care alternatives that bring the doctor to them in a virtual visit. By not gathering in crowded practice or ER waiting rooms, each of us can stop the spread of the virus between people.
Telemedicine allows non-urgently ill patients to still receive care without putting themselves at risk of either spreading a moderate case of the virus or contracting it from a sick patient in a hospital or medical practice.
3. Telehealth builds your brand.
During an unprecedented time of crisis, your patients look to their trusted medical providers for reliable advice in addition to high-quality care and caring. Medical providers can use telehealth tools to increase patient communications via secure, encrypted video, audio, and text communications.
Consider these digital tools a way to bring us together even when social distancing rules require us to stay apart. Providing comfort to housebound patients while offering the best care possible can continue to build the reputation of your practice.
4. Telemedicine can triage patient cases to lessen the strain on hospitals.
Most clinical providers now recognize the severity of the unprecedented strain on our nation’s critical care teams. Even the most conservative estimates suggest that our nation’s hospital beds will be full by mid-May.
ERs are already being overrun in the first hot zones of the epidemic in NYC. But unnecessary visits by the “worried well” are also thronging ER waiting rooms from Seattle to Salt Lake, Louisiana to New Jersey—and we’re still in the early stages of peak diagnosis.
Telemedicine allows clinical providers a front line way to triage patients without exposing anyone else to the COVID-19 virus. From the safety of a videoconference, your clinical team can determine a course of treatment for a patient that may require an in-person visit—or further care at home.
5. Telehealth protects both patients and clinical teams.
Around the country, our first responders are contracting the virus through the simple act of performing their job. It’s an untenable situation that strains our trusted providers to the very breaking point. As we write this, dozens of healthcare workers around the nation have a positive diagnosis of COVID-19. It’s possible their exposure risk could have been lessened if telehealth triaging were in effect.
Well before COVID-19 began making its way around the globe, telemedicine tools have been shown to benefit patients, providers, and the medical practice in countless ways.
Today, telehealth is quickly becoming an important tool for clinician’s fighting the COVID-19 virus. Practices seeking to add telehealth to their arsenal now have access to an easy-to-use, affordable virtual communications platform called SpringHealthLive.
SpringHealthLive Telemedicine for Your Practice
SpringHealthLive is a telehealth application spun from the OrthoLive technology product. For the past several years, OrthoLive offered orthopedic practices around the nation a way to leverage telehealth technology. The application, designed by an orthopedic surgeon, is a successful model for extending treatment to a public hungry for more convenient, and affordable care.
SpringHealthLive went live in response to requests from clinical practices around the nation. Having seen the orthopedic telemedicine service in action, these providers contacted the OrthoLive team with requests to customize the telehealth model for their practice. Our response was to build and deploy SpringHealthLive. With the added pressures of the COVID-19 epidemic, medical practices around the nation have quickly deployed SpringHealthLive to help their patients during this unprecedented time. The web and mobile telehealth service include scheduling features, secure chat, file upload/download, and more.
Please contact us for more information on how you can quickly work SpringHealthLive into your practice workflows to keep your patients and providers safe.