The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the medical community, rewritten society norms, and created countless questions - with few answers. This novel virus has displayed traits of being highly contagious from person to person contact, particularly through respiratory droplets caused by coughing, sneezing, and talking. Due to little knowledge of the disease, the potential for high community spread, and the possibility of best-protecting individuals -- the United States entered a lockdown in March of 2020.
Since then, the U.S. has worked to limit in-person gatherings and encourage social distancing as much as possible. This has resulted in more people working from home than ever before. Schools of all grade levels doing online learning. Social and entertainment events being consumed only via a television or computer screen. This quarantine period has also changed the dynamics of healthcare.
Today, virtual visits are more important than ever. To best limit the possible exposure and spread of COVID-19, healthcare institutions and professionals have been pushing for the widespread use of telehealth services whenever possible. This sharp break from the normal has caused both patients and providers to learn on the fly.
Prior to the pandemic, virtual visits and telehealth technology were up and coming. However, the mass adoption of this healthcare process was still thought to be years away. At the time, virtual visits were mainly used for rural patients that had limited access to physician care. There is no substitution for in-person healthcare, as it often gives physicians a better understanding of patient health.
Yet, telehealth is still able to provide an exceptional level of care and service for both parties. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, and multiple vaccines are still undergoing phase III clinical trials, the use of virtual visits is a vital component to keeping patients and healthcare providers in touch -- and safe.
Even though telehealth has abruptly exploded into the public view due to COVID-19, the virtual health service is not expected to vanish in 2021 or thereafter. Some health experts are still predicting that mask-wearing and social distancing will need to remain in place throughout most of, if not all of 2021 as vaccines are being distributed and administered to the population.
Following the anticipated end of the pandemic, it is expected that telemedicine will continue to play a major role in healthcare, not only in the U.S. but around the world. The convenience, flexibility, accessibility, ease of communication, physical safety, and potential for long-term cost savings -- make virtual visits a projectable cornerstone in modern medical practice.
The majority of healthcare institutions and providers did not have an already existing telehealth infrastructure in place when COVID-19 hit -- and many still do not. In order to keep practices afloat, while protecting patients and employees, a telehealth platform needs to be implemented.
More and more patients are asking for telehealth options, and in fact, this functionality may help providers keep their patients in better overall health during this time. By lowering the bar of commitment to a virtual face-to-face call, patients may be more apt to contact their doctor over a concern they have or just to receive their annual check-up - eliminating the threat of traveling to an office or hospital in-person.
The CDC encourages the use of telemedicine when possible, and lists out the potential benefits to both healthcare providers and patients.
• Screen patients who may have symptoms of COVID-19 and refer as appropriate
• Provide low-risk urgent care for non-COVID-19 conditions, identify those persons who may need additional medical consultation or assessment, and refer as appropriate
• Access primary care providers and specialists, including mental and behavioral health, for chronic health conditions and medication management
• Provide coaching and support for patients managing chronic health conditions, including weight management and nutrition counseling
• Participate in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other modalities as a hybrid approach to in-person care for optimal health
• Monitor clinical signs of certain chronic medical conditions (e.g., blood pressure, blood glucose, other remote assessments)
• Engage in case management for patients who have difficulty accessing care (e.g., those who live in very rural settings, older adults, those with limited mobility)
• Follow up with patients after hospitalization
• Deliver advance care planning and counseling to patients and caregivers to document preferences if a life-threatening event or medical crisis occurs
• Provide non-emergent care to residents in long-term care facilities
• Provide education and training for HCP through peer-to-peer professional medical consultations (inpatient or outpatient) that are not locally available, particularly in rural areas
The time is now to implement virtual visits at your facility, both for pandemic safety and the future trend of healthcare.
Here at QliqSOFT, we are helping advance the healthcare community, while keeping patients and providers digitally safe. Our virtual visit services provide face-to-face care to your patients anytime. Our technology allows clinicians to initiate a virtual visit request with a secure SMS text message, engage via video, and acquire electronic patient signatures on post-visit surveys to validate visit occurrence. All with no app to download, securely, and in real-time.
With simple to use, straightforward interfacing, implementing this technology across patient populations is done with ease. In addition, our chatbot, Quincy, is a healthcare solution that is helping boost patient engagement and satisfaction. Quincy has the ability to integrate with nearly any care setting you deem appropriate and every stage of the patient experience -- from finding a doctor all the way to billing.
If there ever was a time to upgrade your practice’s healthcare services, now would be the time. Contact us to learn how we can help your practice acclimate into a new era of healthcare.
A lifelong communicator, this Tennessee native got his start in broadcast news before branching out into public media, corporate, communications, digital advertising, and integrated marketing. Prior to joining QliqSOFT as the company's first marketing team member, Ben shared his talents with organizations that include the University of Alabama, iHeartMedia, and The Kroger Company.
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