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See your doctor working online?



Sylvia Mattley
BBC News, Washington, DC

An elderly woman consults with a doctor at home

Image copyrightUniversal Pictures Group via Getty Images

Telemedicine has been around for many years, but it never really took off-until the Covid-19 pandemic. As American medical centers have to close, online doctor visits have become a real option for personal visits to the elderly.

As the country is still struggling to deal with this pandemic, thousands of Americans have been meeting doctors of various specialties-from emergency care to neurology-from the comfort of their homes.

And a lot of happiness is. The National Presghini survey released last month showed that compared with in-person care, patients’ evaluation of care providers is more likely, or even higher, after a phone or virtual doctor visit.

This healthcare company surveyed 1.3 million people with 154 medical methods from January 2020 to August 2020, and found that patients have an attitude toward “all healthcare providers, their ability to establish connections, and build trust. “Have a positive attitude.

Madison Russell, a 20-year-old disabled college student from Atlanta, Georgia, said that throughout the pandemic, whenever she has an urgent care problem, a doctor will always be there.

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Ms. Russell said that even if she had to hang out in a virtual waiting room, she said, “It’s still better than cooling her heels in a doctor’s office because it can improve work efficiency while doing other things, such as cleaning the kitchen.” .

‘Covid forces us to recognize the value of telemedicine’

In early May, telemedicine reached a peak of about 37% of all medical incidents, dropped to 22% in early July, and has been stable at 15% since mid-August. But this is still far higher than the pre-pandemic prevalence rate of less than 1%.

The main reason for this increase is the removal of regulatory obstacles. Before the pandemic, the U.S. health insurance plan for senior citizens restricted the cost of providing telemedicine services.

Dr. Jessica Dudley, chief clinical officer at Press Ganey and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, said that most remote visits may not be the same as in-person visits.

Image copyrightPortland Media Report via Getty Images
illustratePeople don’t seem to miss the opportunity to wait to see a doctor

Another restriction is that the provider must also be licensed in the state where the patient lives.

However, after the state government ordered the closure of on-site medical services, emergency Covid-19 legislation eased these Medicare payment restrictions and allowed doctors to practice medicine across states, thus driving the substantial growth of telemedicine.

Dr. Eric Hinman, a neuro-ophthalmologist and associate professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said: “Covid-19 has forced us to finally recognize the value of telemedicine to ensure the safety of patients and doctors.”

During the pandemic, patients began to appreciate the ability to connect with providers without putting them at risk, and doctors also embraced this shift, with many people trying telemedicine for the first time.

Dr. Singman’s virtual visit was so successful that an organization in Texas recently started working with John Hopkins to allow him to visit local patients remotely.

Dr. Xinman said that the patient’s health history accounts for 90% of the diagnosis, and “history is what we do verbally.”

He added that when remote access has video capabilities, doctors can do 95% of their own work.

Dr. Joe Kvedar, chairman of the board of the American Telemedicine Association and professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School, said that in some areas, such as behavioral health, telemedicine may even be “many times better” than visiting in person.

This is because practitioners can see patients in their daily environment, which greatly helps their understanding. He said that it is easier for patients to relax at home than in the doctor’s office.

Virtual mental health care is especially important this year. Health insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield receives 28,000 telemedicine claims every day, up from 200 in February-half of which are virtual mental health visits.

“Freedom to stay at home”

Elaine Vigneault, 44, from Las Vegas, recently received telemedicine services due to a painful rash. She said that she prefers virtual methods to in-person visits in the past.

She said: “It allows you to stay at home freely without having to expose yourself in the waiting room.”

She said that once she “put her face in front of the camera” and described the discomfort, the doctor was able to diagnose herpes zoster, a viral infection.

Ms. Vigneault felt that even though they were not in the same room, she still received the full care of the doctor.

Image copyrightUniversal Pictures Group via Getty Images

In addition to reducing the risk of virus transmission, telemedicine is undoubtedly very convenient. Delays like stuck in traffic are no longer a problem.

Just log in to the phone or make an online appointment, and it can help patients arrive on time, thereby helping doctors.

At the General Hospital of Boston, Dr. Kvedar, a dermatologist, works in the hospital. From the time you first start a video call, the average emergency appointment time is five minutes.

Convenience without consistency?

Despite these benefits, there are drawbacks to virtual doctor visits.

Press Ganey media found that patients are often dissatisfied with technical issues such as scheduling appointments and poor audio and video connections.

Ms. Vigneault said: “If I have a complaint about telemedicine, it is that there is no consistency.”

She said that each provider has its own way of booking and often uses different technologies.

For one of her virtual appointments, Ms. Wigno should have received a text message and then an email with instructions, but she did not receive it.

She said that this is a “small problem” that can be easily resolved by calling her service provider.

From “small road” to “highway”

Dr. Ken Duckworth, the senior medical director of Blue Cross Blue Shield in Massachusetts, said that telemedicine has changed from an “unprecedented trail” before Covid-19 into a “16-lane highway” in the field.

Dr. Nicholas Lorenzo, chief medical officer of the telemedicine company MeMD, said that before the pandemic, there were already signs that telemedicine would be “a major event for the United States and the world.”

“I don’t want to say that this pandemic has any positive significance, but the last ten months have really pushed telemedicine forward for seven to ten years.”

The pandemic proves the effectiveness of telemedicine, which will certainly continue.

Dr. Dudley of Harvard University said, but to do this, it is vital to continue to deal with the “payment model and regulatory challenges” in the post-Covid era.

“Telemedicine is much more effective than having to drive to a certain place, but unless the organization provides resources for it, and in the way that it normally provides resources for clinics, this will not happen.”

Related topics

  • Coronavirus lockdown measures

  • United States

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