Telemedicine continues to grow as the country responds to COVID-19’s challenges. These challenges also lead to public health benefits.
Telemedicine allows patients to connect remotely with medical professionals. With smartphones patients can quickly and easily reach a primary care provider or a specialist anytime and anywhere. Patients can remotely upload their health pictures to a care provider for diagnostic
purposes. In allowing telemedicine to be accepted across the land, the Federal government will help States bring this important benefit to many vulnerable populations throughout the country.
Concurrently with CMS’s Medicare guidance, the HHS Office for Civil Rights announced it will exercise discretion and not impose penalties against covered healthcare providers for noncompliance with Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules in connection with the
good-faith provision of telemedicine. This change allows patients and providers for all types of healthcare to connect over videoconferencing and internet platforms such as Skype, join me, Zoom, Arkadin, TeamViewer, Google Meet, WebEx, LogMein, Facebook Messenger Rooms, GoToMeeting, Fuze, Duo, BlueJeans, FaceTime, Whereby, and the likes during the national emergency. These policy changes followed a 2018 Department of Veterans Affairs regulation that expanded veterans’ healthcare access to include telemedicine and earlier CMS policies to allow virtual check-ins.
Data show that telemedicine utilization increases, because of new flexibilities for the provision of Medicare telemedicine services and potentially because of Health and Human Services (HHS’s) policy change that allows providers to use popular video platforms to connect with
patients. Additionally, the recently enacted Families First Coronavirus Response Act, as amended by the CARES Act, requires group health plans and health insurers to waive cost sharing for COVID-19 testing and any related provider visits to administer such testing,
including telemedicine visits. Furthermore, the recent increase in telemedicine utilization makes sense, as Federal policies have encouraged alternatives to in-person interaction and there is a need to decrease demands on the healthcare system. While it is difficult to separate whether the
surge in telemedicine is primarily driven by patients’ and providers’ shifting preferences due to COVID-19, the CARES Act, or private insurance reimbursement policies echoing Medicare’s change, all of these factors more than likely contribute to telemedicine’s growth.
Telemedicine’s recent growth coincides with a significant reduction in urgent care and hospital outpatient services utilization since March of 2020. Although data are not available to clearly demonstrate that patients who would have sought care in urgent care and hospital outpatient
departments used telemedicine services instead of in-person care, additional options can help patients meet their healthcare needs in a time when public health officials are recommending physical distancing, including avoiding crowded healthcare waiting rooms, and when many
people may feel unsafe receiving in-person care. In other words, telemedicine may help slow the spread of COVID-19 by facilitating physical distancing.
By lowering demand for in-person care, telemedicine helps the United States healthcare system avoid exceeding capacity during this national emergency. Importantly, telemedicine or telehealth can also reduce the negative health outcomes that come from delaying non-COVID-19 care for conditions that require urgent attention.
We, at Dr. Syverain Weight Loss & Skin Care Clinic, continue to attend to the needs of our patients and population of Silicon Valley and surrounding areas six days a week at the office; but also through telemedicine seven days a week from 9 A.M to 9 P.M. for those who have questions
or need a free consultation. Thus with telemedicine or telehealth, the potential to expand quality healthcare to individuals, with limited access to physical services, who live in rural America, people with disability, and elderly patients who have difficulty commuting, is limitless.
Additionally, telemedicine can cut overhead costs and reduce the overall time it takes to seek medical expertise for diagnoses and treatments. With many States temporarily waiving or permanently repealing restrictions on the practice of telemedicine across State lines, the benefits
of this type of care will likely continue after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Regardless of what the future may bring, the gift of telemedicine to America in the age of COVID-19 is obvious. The Federal government’s embrace of telemedicine is one example of using targeted deregulation to allow the private sector to complement the Federal Government’s COVID-19 responses. The rapid growth in telemedicine shows how this technology can help the American healthcare system meet patients’ needs during a national emergency. While telemedicine’s immediate benefits are clear, it may also offer long-term promise by increasing healthcare access to all and providing higher-value care from cradle to grave.
If you have any question regarding this blog or our free consultation through telemedicine, please contact Dr Syverain Weight Loss & Skin Care Clinic by calling 408-294-9234 or 650-368-3048 or 408-842-4408 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or make an appointment online for any of our Weight Loss & Skin Care offices at 800thin.com