What is telehealth?
The information technology age is upon us and with that comes advancements in healthcare related to technology.
Telehealth is the culmination of technology and healthcare best practices. Telehealth is an umbrella term for healthcare services delivered “at a distance” or remotely. This may include doctor visits via phone, computer, or mobile device.
Telehealth provides healthcare by means of digital and communication technologies and is truly fascinating.
The purpose of telehealth is to make healthcare more accessible for people who live in rural areas or for those with limited time, mobility, or transportation. Telehealth connects hospitals in remote areas, offers convenient video appointments, and promotes health compliance through email reminders and patient educational tools.
As using telehealth services becomes easier and more people are staying home due to the pandemic, telehealth is gaining popularity rapidly.
By 2025, the telehealth industry is projected to exceed $64.1 billion in the US and $130.5 Billion worldwide. Telehealth is important to future healthcare platforms because it increases patient access, communication, and satisfaction.
How are Telehealth Services Used During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Telehealth is providing an important piece in managing the COVID-19 pandemic by making health services available when we need them most.
The use of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced provider and patient exposure to the virus and has helped preserve personal protective equipment (PPE) for those that need it in healthcare facilities.
According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus which began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
It has turned into a pandemic, affecting countries globally. Symptoms of COVID-19 can differ from mild to severe. Minor symptoms may be treated at home, while severe symptoms may require hospitalization for support.
Related: Coronavirus Resource Center
As COVID-19 continues to spread across the world, you can take action at home if you think you may have COVID-19. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common signs and symptoms of COVID-19 are:
FeverDry coughTirednessAches and painsLoss of taste or smell
According to the CDC about 80% of people recover from COVID-19 without needing hospital treatment. Around 1 out of every 5 people who get COVID-19 become seriously ill, develop difficulty breathing, and require hospitalization.
Mild cases of COVID-19 can be treated at home. If you have a mild fever and slight cough, you can stay at home, self-isolate and monitor your symptoms. You should self-isolate from family members for 14 days even if you begin to feel healthy or well.
Read: Caring For Someone With COVID-19
How Do You Know if You Need to Seek Medical Attention for COVID-19?
It’s important to closely monitor your condition and know when you need medical attention.
If any of the following occur, seek medical attention immediately.
Difficulty breathing, shortness of breathChest or upper abdominal pain or pressureFainting, sudden dizziness or weaknessChanges in visionConfusion or changes in mental statusAny sudden or severe painUncontrolled bleedingSevere or persistent vomiting or diarrheaCoughing or vomiting bloodDifficulty speaking
If you’re not sure about your medical condition you can book an online appointment with a top PlushCare physician. Our doctors are here to assess your condition and provide you with medical advice.
Benefits and Uses of Telehealth
Some benefits of telehealth are that it:
Enhances patient-physician collaborationsIncreases access to high quality careImproves health through timely care interventionsIncreases compliance adherenceDecreases costs
During COVID-19 times, telehealth can be used to screen patients for COVID-19 symptoms and assess them for potential exposures. Telehealth, especially via phone can be used to interview patients for contact tracing, symptom monitoring, providing specialized care when needed, and monitor recovering COVID-19 patients.
Related: COVID-19 Virtual Screening Information
Limitations of Telehealth and Telehealth Flexibility
Although it seems telehealth is a wonderful tool without limitations, the truth is that telehealth does have some limits.
There are certain situations in which telehealth is not the best method of treatment management, including medical emergencies. If you are having a medical emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest hospital immediately.
Additionally, sometimes a physical exam and/or in-person medication administration is needed to aid in medical decision making and treatment.
Depending on the patient population and demographics, telehealth may seem more daunting than convenient or may simply be out of reach due to a lack of access to the proper technology.
All that said, telehealth provides flexibility, giving patients access to a healthcare provider 24/7. If you have access to a phone, tablet, or computer you essentially have access to healthcare. Telehealth is great for both urban and rural areas and offers virtual visits, psychotherapy, consultations, and other medical or health services.
Read: Online Psychiatrist Prescription
Telehealth Insurance and Reimbursement
Insurance coverage and reimbursements vary by insurance plan. Generally speaking, you must pay your regular copays for telehealth appointments.
Medicare has updated services related to telehealth given the Public Health Emergency. Medicare currently covers the lab tests for COVID-19, FDA-approved COVID-19 antibody tests, and all medically necessary hospitalizations including COVID-19 related diagnoses. This means you pay no out-of-pocket fees. If a vaccine becomes available, Medicare states that will be covered as well.
Related: COVID-19 Free Antibody Testing Appointments
At PlushCare, we accept and are in-network with all major insurance providers including:
AetnaBlue ShieldHumanaAnthem Blue CrossCignaUnited Healthcare
You can also check with your insurance company to see what type of telehealth services they cover, and what your co-pay will be for those services.
Appointments as low as $20. Use our cost checker to see what you’ll pay Check My Cost
Medicaid and Medicare Telehealth
People with Medicare may be at higher risk for contracting COVID-19. With that being said, Medicare has taken steps to ensure the safety, health, and welfare of Medicare and Medicaid members.
Telehealth was once previously reserved under Medicare Part B for rural areas only.
Medicare has temporarily expanded its’ coverage of telehealth services in response to the current Public Health Emergency. As of March 6, 2020, doctors and other Medicare-approved healthcare providers are allowed to use telehealth services to treat COVID-19 and other medical conditions.
Telehealth services for Medicare has increased patient access to a wider range of providers such as doctors, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech language pathologists.
Telehealth for Medicare offers virtual visits, mental health counseling and preventative health screening without a co-payment if you have original Medicare.
Many telehealth platforms offer great benefits for Medicare and Medicaid members. As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, make sure to stay up-to-date on Medicare and Medicaid changes in terms of telehealth and related services.
How PlushCare Can Help
PlushCare is available to assist you during these times by providing effective, affordable, and efficient medical care. With PlushCare, getting telehealth during COVID-19 is as easy as clicking here or calling (888)289-2132 to schedule an appointment.
Give telehealth a try and book your appointment with PlushCare today.
Read More About Coronavirus and Telehealth
World Health Organization: Retrieved from: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/question-and-answers-hub/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/telehealth.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/global-covid-19/telehealth-covid19-nonUS.html
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. Retrieved from: https://www.medicare.gov/medicare-coronavirus
Global Market Insights. Telemedicine Market. Retrieved from: https://www.gminsights.com/industry-analysis/telemedicine-market
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