So, is telemedicine here to stay? Is it viable as a method of treating patients?
A psychiatrist can use telemedicine, with the addition of telepharmacy and e-prescription and be done. The care they provide does not differ whether it is in-person or over a screen.
But what about a cardiologist? Unreliable and un-knowledgeable patients could lead to mistakes being made. But with input from cardiologists, it might be possible to create a telemedicine platform that works for them. But it would not replace the traditional method. However, in scenarios like the one that we’re currently living in, it would be better than not being able to provide care at all.
[Read More: Part I: Is Telemedicine Here to Stay?]
“According to a report published by Global Market Insights, the telehealth industry is projected to exceed $64.1 billion in the U.S. by 2025. Additionally, a National Business Group on Health survey found that 96% of U.S. companies said they would provide telehealth coverage within their health insurance benefits plans, and the American Hospital Association noted that 76% of U.S. hospitals currently use telehealth to connect patients with providers.”((“How Covid-19 Is Changing Healthcare For Good – Forbes” Accessed September 5, 2020.))
Along with that, there is this astonishing piece of information: According to Forbes, “many patients have quickly adjusted to receiving care online; during the pandemic, we’ve seen a 460% increase in patient sign-ups, and our patient base continues to grow rapidly.”((“How Covid-19 Is Changing Healthcare For Good – Forbes” Accessed September 5, 2020.))
I guess the answer to the question at the start of this blog is pretty easily answered by these two quotes. Not so easy, unfortunately.
While this is great news for those in support of telemedicine inclusion, there are others like Trevor Royce (mentioned in part one; is against telemedicine); which begs the question, why is there still a vocal resistance and concern over telemedicine, if Royce’s concerns can be easily addressed. Because there are so many other variables at work as well. For instance, the internet service that is used by the provider. In the process of writing this blog, I have had to restart my laptop 11 times, a time consuming event, because of an issue with my laptop’s wifi adapter and it refusing to detect wifi.
For a provider, this is not acceptable when they are trying to provide care. If they are in the process of providing care and the connection is lost, it means that the patient could be in an inconvenient situation, like that of having to set a new appointment, or wait and try to reconnect, missing any previous engagement they had scheduled.
In a situation like the one above, important information could slip through the cracks, such as forgetting to confirm that the physician had sent out the order for any possible prescriptions, or had failed to talk about a follow up treatment plan that needed to be started immediately, or maybe they might not have even received a diagnosis to a pressing issue, such as shortness of breath (a symptom of COVID-19), which could get worse without proper diagnosis and treatment.
On the providers end, reconnecting at a later appointment might not be an issue. However, having to try and reconnect with the patient as soon as possible, which might mean making their following patient wait, could lead to a chain of events. One that could lead to multiple patients being inconvenienced, as well as the provider feeling the need to rush to make up for lost time, which could lead to faulty care provision due to unintentional negligence.
There is also the question of interoperability. Not all Electronic Health Record (EHR) software is created equally competent as far as interoperability goes. What if a specialist, using a different software, is needed in the provision of care? If the primary provider cannot transmit patient records while maintaining its integrity and privacy, that unleashes a whole host of problems.
Looking at the information detailed so far, it could be hard for some to determine whether telemedicine is a good idea or not. But as long as the current healthcare climate remains, telemedicine will be used widely, no matter if it is a good idea or not. Because when the question is provide no care or provide care in some way, the latter will always win out.
The real question is whether, after it has been modified and adapted to provide the best possible care, is telemedicine a good long term solution or not?
The answer is yes. Telemedicine has, in the majority of cases, made life easier. We, the people, like things when they’re easier.
Everything that is now taking place worldwide and the problems that the healthcare community is facing is a trial by fire for telemedicine.
Instead of a slow adoption, which was seemingly never going to take place, it has been a case, for both providers and patients, of being pushed into the deep end of the pool and having to figure it out.
And the results are seemingly good.
We at blueEHR believe that telemedicine is a key component of the future of care provision. That is why we have made it one of the cornerstones of our product and we have made it so that it is interoperable with any system it interacts with, while retaining the integrity of the information and protecting the data.
We have also created it so that if the telemedicine platform is used in conjunction with blueEHRs EHR software, in the case of internet connectivity problems, patient data is not lost, as it will sync with the system once connection is re-established.
If other industry leaders are with us in the goal of providing a telemedicine platform that can adapt to the provider and patients needs, no matter how varied it is, while meeting all requirements as far as safety and privacy regulations go, then the answer to the title is: telemedicine is here to stay!