When the emerging COVID-19 pandemic led to stay-at-home orders that were imposed nationwide in March 2020, there was a sudden shift to working from home whenever possible, teaching students via online platforms, and turning appointments into virtual meetings. Healthcare was also affected, with the switch to telehealth for many appointments that before would have occurred in person.
Explosion of telehealth use during COVID-19
The use of telehealth services already had been growing pre-pandemic, with COVID-19 inspiring some providers to move swiftly ahead, as well as push the evolution further. Others have been slow or resistant to transition any services online, not wanting to abandon in-person appointments and clinic hours. Some patients have found it impossible to use telehealth services due to the countless barriers that keep telehealth from being widely accessible, such as payer reimbursement and access to necessary technology.
Telehealth became a lifeline for patients with a critical need to stay home and for healthcare workers who were fighting diligently to ensure there were enough hospital beds for those flooding through their doors. As the weeks passed and the curve flattened for the first time, many states began to reopen, prompting the question—will the use of telehealth dwindle or is this a moment in which telehealth becomes a permanent healthcare option? Regardless, here’s a brief look at the good and the bad of telehealth’s rise.
Here are some of the benefits of telehealth, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Telehealth does come with challenges, as well. According to Harvard Health Publishing, here are some of the drawbacks:
Medical News Today offers some additional disadvantages:
Telehealth after the Coronavirus pandemic
in an interview in Modern Healthcare Paul Black, CEO of Allscripts, describes how telehealth has come of age. He adds, “This is the tipping point for telehealth. Never again will the default workflow for seeing most patients/consumers be instructions to come to the office, urgent care clinic or hospital emergency room.” U.S. healthcare providers, much of the business side of healthcare, and patients have definitely begun to adjust to using FaceTime or Zoom for work as well as for a basic healthcare check in, so it seems that there may be no turning back. Given the need to reduce unnecessary health expenditures and slow the increase in the cost of healthcare, we may have little choice but to make telehealth an important initial step in the process of getting healthcare.
To support caregivers and healthcare organizations as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, HealthStream is offering a collection of carefully curated courses to all customers for free. Likewise, Using HealthStream’s Channels platform for video learning, we have a created a free-access COVID19 Channel in response to the COVID19 pandemic, specifically to support healthcare workers and their families. It contains a collection of curated videos provided by HealthStream and HealthStream’s content partners from several trusted sources on YouTube, such as the CDC and Mayo Clinic.
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