CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — According to a recent Gallup poll, four in five Americans believe it is risky to go to healthcare facilities right now. Telemedicine provides a safer alternative, but for some technology challenged people that might not be an option. Ivanhoe has the details on how some doctors are bringing healthcare straight to the patients who need it the most.
Covid-19 has made telemedicine the norm for regular checkups, bringing doctors straight to patients’ living rooms through screens. But not all patients are capable of doing this.
“I’m 80 years old. I don’t have modern technology now. Cellphones or computers or anything,” said Caroline Goodwin.
So Caroline is one of many patients who are driving to their doctor’s office for their appointments. But instead of going inside, she’s getting a curbside health exam.
“To bring tablets to patients who don’t have them. To treat patients in parking lots is going to be a gamechanger,” explained Ben Kornitzer, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Agilon Health.
“Simply all they have to do is roll down their window, hold the device, and we’re there to talk to them and we can have a telehealth visit right from the parking lot,” shared Richard Cook II, MD, a physician at Preferred Primary Care Physicians.
This method is being put into place, especially in rural areas or where there’s a large senior population. In a survey of about 1,000 seniors, just 24 percent said they conducted a telehealth visit during the Covid-19 crisis.
“Unfortunately, a lot of these patients were the people we needed to see the most. They were the elderly patients, the sicker patients,” continued Dr. Cook.
But by keeping these regular checkups, even in a virtual manner, patients can treat ongoing medical conditions.
“Sure, we can’t listen to their heart and listen to their lungs, but you can see how well they’re breathing. Are they congested? Are they in any kind of distress?” explained Dr. Cook.
And avoid going to the emergency room.
“Oh no. I stay away from the hospital at all costs,” Caroline said.
Drive-in health exams are being performed in states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York. Many doctors have found this service useful in getting patients access to telehealth, so they are planning on keeping the service going forward.
Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor.
DRIVE-IN HEALTHCARE: TELEHEALTH FOR THE
BACKGROUND: Telemedicine is the process of offering virtual online care and education to patients with the use of telehealth technology. This method of healthcare delivery has helped in cutting costs, improving outcomes, and increasing patient convenience all over the country. With increasing pressures of skyrocketing care delivery costs, physician shortages, increased competition, and declining healthcare outcomes, telemedicine provides proven methodologies to overcome these challenges. The market for telehealth is predicted to grow more than 14% in 2019 and 2020. Cleveland Clinic has been using telehealth for more than four years, and a benefit they have noticed is an increase in patient engagement and satisfaction scores. The positive impacts seen from telemedicine are an increase in access to healthcare, particularly for rural areas; allows patients to connect with specialty care providers; and the reduction in no-shows and wait times for appointments.
TELEHEALTH AND COVID: Some telehealth modalities include synchronous, or real-time telephone or live audio-video interaction, typically with a patient, using a smartphone, tablet, or computer; asynchronous, where the provider and patient communication does not happen in real time. It’s more of a “store and forward” technology which allows messages, images, or data to be collected at one point in time and interpreted or responded to later; or, remote patient monitoring, which allows direct transmission of a patient’s clinical measurements from a distance to their healthcare provider. Some potential uses of telehealth during COVID are screening for symptoms; contact tracing; monitoring COVID symptoms; providing specialized care for hospitalized patients with COVID; providing access to essential healthcare for non-COVID patients; and, monitoring recovering COVID patients. Some limitations for telehealth are if addressing sensitive topics, especially if there is patient discomfort or concern for privacy; limited access to technological devices like phones, tablets, or computers; or even connectivity on the part of healthcare providers or patients may make telehealth infeasible for some people, especially in rural areas.
THE FUTURE OF TELEHEALTH: Telemedicine is bringing about more virtual clinical trials which allow the people taking part to stay in their homes most of the time while wearing remote monitoring devices. These remote gadgets could enable you to spot deviations more easily from patients’ baseline readings. This could also mean recruiters are less restricted by geographic boundaries. Healthcare for inmates is something that often gets overlooked, but telemedicine is making it substantially more accessible for people in correctional facilities. This use of telemedicine is beneficial when inmates need to see specialists and don’t have easy access to them through other means. Pediatric telemedicine options are more common now. The early results of an ongoing study assessing telemedicine for high-risk pediatric patients show that telemedicine is a time saver that reduces in-person visits. There is more evidence that health facilities are getting on board with telemedicine for kids.
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