The introduction of a global pandemic brought about a drastic change in how medical care not only can be offered, but how its delivery is sometimes preferred.
As people hunkered down to avoid catching or spreading the novel coronavirus (aka COVID-19), their existing chronic conditions or acute issues did not disappear and it was clear that there needed to be ways to get medical care.
With practically everyone on a smart phone or similar device not just at home but on their person everywhere they go, it seems strange that people weren’t already having Zoom or Skype calls with their doctors and other medical professionals. The reasons for the slow adoption of these remote services before the pandemic are complex, but many insurers and the federal government agreed to expand availability this year—and possibly beyond.
What Is It?
The American Telemedicine Association describes telemedicine as “the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve the patient’s clinical health status.” Basically, it means a health care provider can discuss patient health on the phone or via computer to maintain well-being, and this includes gathering vital signs to maintain records.
From these virtual appointments, a patient can get a diagnosis, a subscription for medication, or find out if they need to have an in-person visit with a doctor.
Virtual Home Care
In-home care services might also require a traditional visit such as being there to help someone with bathing to prevent a fall. Caregivers are deemed essential workers and can be that point of contact to help, but there are ways that they can also be of help remotely:
- Grocery and medication delivery
- Hands-on assistance with setting up technology to have telehealth appointments with a health care provider or for a social visit with loved ones
- Checking in by phone to boost spirits and reduce feelings of loneliness, as well as get an update on well-being
- Sharing updates for coordinating care between all parties such as family and other providers
Check with your health care provider, insurance, and Medicare benefits to see what telehealth options are covered for you and your loved ones.