Telehealth services are just one of the many innovations made in the field of medicine over the last few years. But it’s been around for far longer than the pandemic. So what saw its rise in importance? And how can hospitals capitalize on it?
From Hospital to Home Treatment
Going into this year, hospitals weren’t just places people went in emergency situations. Checkups, dental care, counseling and numerous other avenues were open to people in need of help. When the pandemic occurred, that changed.
Some hospitals were simply swamped with COVID-19 patients. To limit the spread of the virus, they limited access to essential cases. Some individuals decided to avoid hospitals even if they weren’t in COVID-19 hot spots, out of an abundance of caution. But many of the people who could not enter a hospital, or chose not to, still needed treatment. This opened the door wide for telehealth.
Telehealth Takes Off
Before COVID-19, health professionals would use telehealth to follow up on physical visits, treat mild emergencies and communicate with patients before prescribing medicine. In 2016, radiologists, psychiatrists and cardiologists were found to be the most likely to use telehealth to interact with patients. Additionally, emergency physicians, pathologists and radiologists used it most to communicate with fellow health care workers. Just a year ago, in 2019, the healthcare industry saw a rise in providers making use of telehealth. But, with so many patients at home in need of treatment, hospitals have broadened the use of telehealth as a treatment tool even further.
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, this has changed considerably, as has the use of telehealth. Health care professionals saw telehealth visits increase as much as 50% in March. What’s more, the trend of using telehealth is likely to persist beyond the coronavirus. The motivation, to prevent further spread of infection, sheer convenience or something else, is unimportant. What matters is healthcare companies being appropriately prepared to offer telehealth services.
Access to the Right Physicians
This isn’t just a matter of connecting the right doctors with the patients in need. It’s also making sure those doctors are properly equipped to see those patients. Health care organizations can provide them with the phones, computers or other devices. However, this means an additional cost for any number of doctors who likely have devices capable of telehealth. The answer to the issue of equipment isn’t purchasing said equipment, but enabling employees to use their personal devices for hospital business and reimbursing them for it.
Out of Office
Not every doctor spends their time in a hospital. Since COVID-19 and the rise of telehealth, working from home has never been more accessible to medical professionals. But that also means they’re using their home space for business purposes, which could require any number of changes, from upgrading internet to setting up an office to make confidential calls or video chats. The easiest way to prepare physicians for working remotely is setting up a reimbursement for the business use of their home. A remote work reimbursement should include a stipend for internet, home office and potentially phone usage.
Telehealth Beyond Today
It’s impossible to say what the future of medicine holds, or predict the ground breaking discoveries that will change the way we treat illnesses. We can, however, agree that telehealth is a part of that future, and it isn’t going away soon. If your organization is considering how telehealth fits in its services, consider how your physicians should be compensated for the business use of their personal assets and expenses. The result could be a solution that’s easier, less expensive and more secure. Learn more about Remote Work Reimbursement here.