Haims: Telehealth is changing the delivery of health care
Before the coronavirus pandemic came about, few people had an interest in having their medical visits held online as opposed to within a medical office. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a paradigm shift.
Now, with concerns of personal contact between patients and medical providers and limited access to hospitals, traditional medical appointments will be forever changed. Telehealth may pose a solution.
The landscape of medicine has been changing for some time — as it should. Over the last decade, the fee-for-service reimbursement model evolved to a value-based reimbursement model. Simplified, the fee-for-service model had been the most traditional payment model for decades. This model of health care incentivized physicians and organizations to order more procedures for patients which generated greater revenue.
As health care regulations changed in the U.S. and public demand for better attention to quality and patient wellness grew, a new model of health care reimbursement evolved. Called value-based care, the premise is to motivate health care providers to work together and establish more meaningful and closer relationships with their patients. This model of reimbursement rewards health care providers for the quality of care they provide and patient outcomes.
With the onset of the coronavirus, the delivery and access to health care has experienced formidable challenges. Across the country emergency room visits have been down substantially, face-to-face office visits have been either been postponed or canceled, and surgical procedures had been pretty much shut down.
Shortly after the Trump administration declared COVID-19 a national emergency, the telehealth industry was forever transformed. So what’s telehealth and why should you care about it?
Oxford’s telemedicine definition of telehealth is “the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology.” Telemedicine encompasses the use of technologies and applications to administer health care to patients who are geographically separated from providers. It includes real-time interactive videoconferencing, streaming video, and diagnostic hardware that helps facilitate the treatment and education of patients at their home, place of work, school, or just about anywhere.
Across the world, communities have had their delivery of health care affected by COVID-19. For some countries and communities that have embraced telehealth, I believe that they will achieve a level of health care quality that will be transformative.
Patients whose local medical providers offer telehealth can now not only interact with their local providers, but also with medical providers elsewhere within the state and even in other states where the patient’s insurance is accepted. While telehealth technologies have been in use for quite some time with hospitals and between medical providers, never before have they had the ability to touch the patient as they do now.
Imagine sitting in your home and having the opportunity to collaborate with your local and trusted medical provider along with top-tier specialists from across the country. Imagine the questions you could ask of them and the benefits that kind of collaboration could have upon your health outcomes.
In Israel, they have embraced telehealth to a level few other countries can come close to. Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv has been utilizing patient monitoring platforms from Datos and Tyto Care to assist and collaborate with Teladoc providers to offer an unparalleled level of health care.
Both Datos and Tyto Care provide consumer safety devices that monitor, detect, analyze and predict adverse events in patient conditions. When necessary, providers at Sheba Medical Center can provide patients with a personal exam kit that enables the patient to perform guided medical exams with their health care provider.
Exam kits include electronic devices that allow medical providers to listen to your lungs, heart, and abdomen. Other devices allow providers to look in your ears, throat, measure your temperature and even view your skin for rashes, cuts, infections, and other dermatological purposes.
While telehealth is coming of age, we are still a long way from truly embracing its potential. I hope telehealth will become part of a new era in health care that embraces the potential of greater provider/client communication and patient satisfaction. If there were ever a time that medical providers needed a partner to achieve a higher level of patient care and promote the value-based care model, I’d hope they’d embrace the newest and greatest offerings that the telehealth industry has to offer.
If this interests you, go online and Google, Datos, Tyto Care, Teladoc, and Amwell. These companies are just a few that are trailblazing the telehealth industry.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Vail, Beaver Creek, and throughout Eagle County. He is an advocate for our elderly and is available to answer questions. His contact information is http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns, 970-328-5526.
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