During the COVID-19 pandemic, the main concern for everyone is being safe. This may raise concerns when being around places such as hospitals or clinics. With a majority of hospitals at full capacity, you may wonder how people with less severe illnesses are getting the treatment that they need.
Maybe you have been thinking about going to the doctor to discuss recent stomach pains and are unsure of what the process is. This uncertainty can cause you to avoid scheduling an appointment out of fear of contracting the deadly virus.
The truth is, many people are not going to clinics or hospitals anymore. While there are still some clinics that accept appointments and walk-ins, the majority have switched to a safer, and more convenient method called telemedicine.
The Differences Between TeleMedicine and Conventional Medicine
When you have a health issue, your first instinct is typically to call your primary care physician and schedule an appointment. Of course, you would do this without a hint of doubt.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, many consider clinics and hospitals to be the least safe places to be. The reason for this is obvious, being that thousands of healthcare professionals are in these facilities every day risking their lives to help victims of COVID-19.
The Center for Disease Control has recently passed strict guidelines for the reopening of small clinics. Most clinics are not allowing walk-ins anymore and have stricter policies for thoroughly sanitizing the waiting area and patient rooms. This can be stressful for most clinics that have few employees and thus, a majority have moved their services to telehealth.
What are Telemedicine and Telehealth?
Telemedicine is a form of medical care that was first introduced in the 1950s. When medical care was not so readily available to everyone, experts speculated that the use of technology could give everyone the care that they needed. This was done with the needs of people living in rural areas, underprivileged, and elderly individuals in mind.
In modern times, telemedicine is typically understood as using virtual means such as a video streaming service to provide patients with medical care. This is usually complemented with portable medical devices such as small blood pressure monitors or ECGs.
Telehealth is a broader spectrum that includes telemedicine and non-clinical services. Anything that is involved in the field of health is included under this term. For instance, physical therapy or pharmaceutical work can be considered telehealth. The idea of giving care through virtual means is the same.
What Are the Benefits of Telemedicine?
Telemedicine is beneficial to both patients and healthcare providers. During the pandemic, there are plenty of employees who would not like to risk their lives in such settings, and this is understandable. However, this has an unintended consequence. Hospitals and clinics are now steadily looking to hire new employees due to a lack of available employees in the field.
Telemedicine benefits providers because it offers an additional source of income. Using this income, they can improve sanitation methods, enhance the clinics and hospitals, and hire new employees. For instance, a clinic may use the income collected from virtual care visits to expand their waiting area to follow social distancing guidelines. They may also provide hand sanitizer stations.
Not only does telemedicine provide an extra source of income, but it also provides safety. Diseases are known for lingering on surfaces, and the coronavirus disease is no different. The fact that symptoms do not appear quickly makes clinics and hospitals a dangerous place to be. Healthcare professionals have to take extreme caution when handling new patients. By visiting your physician online, you will keep both yourself and your doctor safe.
Patients can benefit from virtual medical care in the sense that it is more convenient and affordable. Anyone who has access to the internet and a mobile device can utilize telemedicine. Plenty of clinics and hospitals have introduced portals that can connect you with a physician for an affordable cost.
When meeting with your physician, you will be able to privately discuss your symptoms and receive an appropriate diagnosis. The physician will be able to assess your vitals by making use of mobile medical recording devices. If a device is needed, the physician will recommend a medical care package that includes the necessary technology.
This process is efficient and can be done from the comfort of your homes. Not to mention, you will never have to miss work again to visit your physician. Telemedicine is also generally cheaper than in-person visits and is covered by many insurance companies.
What Types of Illnesses Can Telemedicine Treat?
Telemedicine is practiced by several departments, including gynecology, pediatrics, radiology, general care, dermatology, mental health, and physical therapy. While more advanced care such as ultrasounds or gynecological annual checkups cannot be physically completed through virtual care, a majority of minor checkups can.
Modern times have also done a lot to further telemedicine as well. The internet provides means for video calls and a way to purchase items you need for your health. For example, consulting with a specialist on something like back pain is convenient, and there are plenty of places to buy orthopedic supports that they might suggest from companies like ScripHessco.
Care in these categories can involve your physician prescribing medication and treatment for a new skin rash or your therapist instructing workouts for physical therapy. Telemedicine removes the need to physically visit the doctor’s office for minor health issues.
With telehealth, other health problems such as back spasms and joint pain can also be treated. Often, a physician will evaluate the affected area through videos and prescribe a treatment plan based on your symptoms and level of discomfort.
Here is a small list of things that can be done with telehealth:
- Screen possible victims of COVID-19
- Provide physical and occupational therapy
- Monitor vitals such as blood pressure and glucose levels
- Provide urgent care for all patients
- Provide care to patients with chronic conditions
- Provide medical education and training
- Provide care for everyone with internet access
- Deliver preventative care
- Provide primary care
- Provide accurate diagnoses and treatment plans
Telemedicine is typically very simple to use. For patients, most programs require you to schedule an appointment with your desired specialist and then enter a “waiting area” on the day of your appointment. You will then be put into a private video chat with your physician as soon as he/she is available. Telehealth will continue to provide effective care for everyone in the years to come.