Medhealth Review

Telemedicine: US Witnesses an Unusual Surge

As with all other sectors, the ongoing pandemic has been the most impacting aspect in the contemporary American med health space. Certain technologies have come to the forefront as compared to others. The pandemic-induced work from home culture has fuelled the need for specific precautionary measures and safety regulations. 

One of the technologies that has been predicted to dominate 2021 is advanced telemedicine. Virtual appointments were growing in popularity even before the ongoing coronavirus. The pandemic has paved the way for its dominance like never before. Several American healthcare firms are contemplating heavy investments in combining advanced telemedicine health care with existing ones. The pandemic has proven how virtual medicine can be significant for primary health care and urgent medicine. It can be assumed that the hidden potential of virtual healthcare remains more or less unexplored especially with respect to establishing collaboration with clinics across the nation. 

The early days of the pandemic saw a surge in telemedicine usage as customers sought methods to ensure safe access to healthcare. By 2020 April, the overall telemedicine utilization was about 78 times more as compared to February 2020. This applies to outpatient care and even official visits to health care facilities. 

When Covid-19 was at its peak, there was the widespread implementation of telehealth services across the nation. It was a timely move. However, it never was a well-strategized plan as there was not much focus on the possible influence on patient populations from known and existing healthcare disparities.

Increased customer interest in using telemedicine has been a major contributor to its surge. Also, many of the healthcare providers preferred telehealth over physical visits to hospitals. In short, telemedicine was all about avoiding exposure and extending quality health care.

While telehealth has existed since the late 1950s, its major use was in rural areas, especially during the 1990s and early 2000s. Moreover, providers of telehealth usually focused on certain features. The pandemic has been instrumental in making telehealth a widespread facility. 

Now that previously unexplored possibilities of telehealth services have come to the forefront, increased interest in telehealth is likely to continue beyond the pandemic-stricken era into the upcoming years. 

However, certain challenges may assume significance here. Let’s consider some of the challenges that require immediate action. 

Firstly, let’s consider reimbursement challenges. There have been incidents about some of the telehealth claims being rejected by insurance providers. 

Currently, regulations with respect to reimbursement for telemedicine are taken care of largely at the state level. Certain laws are issued by some of the states regarding the total coverage of telemedicine. However, it is yet to be implemented across the nation. Significant changes are awaited in the laws concerning telehealth.

Technical challenges are also important here. For instance, access to telemedicine is possible only if the person has technical access, such as a good internet facility, basic devices, and knowledge on their use. Furthermore, telemedicine providers should also be capable of navigating the institution-specific workflow associated with a specific telemedicine service.

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