The Growth of Telemedicine and How Virtual Scribing Can Simplify the Process for Everyone
The telehealth industry has been growing steadily in the last few years, with more and more healthcare providers leveraging modern digital technologies to offer patients more access to their services. Many have looked at virtual medical visits as the future of healthcare even before the Covid-19 pandemic made it clear that telehealth should be more widespread.
Because of the restrictions that ensued, many people were suddenly left with little to no access to health care services, which put the spotlight even more on virtual doctor appointments that could allow people to access professional medical advice from the safety and comfort of their own homes.
Telehealth Restrictions Removed Because of the Pandemic
Though certainly exciting, telehealth has not been so warmly embraced by everyone. Virtual doctor appointments set out to address a few failings that traditional medical services and visits haven’t managed, such as being accessible even to people in remote areas, reduced expenses, or allowing 24/7 care.
However, progress has been rather slow on telemedicine front for several reasons:
- Skepticism regarding the technology
- Issues with insurance company reimbursements
- State regulations that do not support the introduction of telemedicine services
- Privacy concerns
- Public awareness regarding the availability of these resources, etc
But because of the Covid-19 pandemic, many former skeptics are looking at telehealth with a fresh perspective. The US issued “an unprecedented array of temporary regulatory waivers and new rules” to allow the American healthcare system to become more flexible as a direct response to the pandemic. These new rules have included lifting many restrictions that have prevented healthcare workers and physicians in the past from using telehealth to provide care for their patients.
Medicare and even private insurers now cover virtual doctor’s appointments, even if they don’t use video calling technology, and the costs of such appointments have dropped tremendously. Even confidence in virtual appointments has shifted, with many people preferring to call in their doctor via Zoom or Skype instead of sitting in a waiting area where they may be exposed to Covid-19.
How the Classic Doctor’s Appointment Changed
The shift hasn’t just affected telehealth providers – doctors who’ve exclusively seen patients in-person have also had to embrace telemedicine technology to stay in touch with their patients, particularly those who needed supervision and monitoring.
Due to Covid-19, doctors are now holding appointments in a virtual setting they’ve never used before, and there has been somewhat of a learning curve. Though the technology itself is intuitive and can be easily learned, healthcare workers have had to quickly learn of the limitations of virtual appointments, and how to overcome them to offer patients the best care possible.
Traditionally, telemedicine has been used for non-emergency care, rather than a replacement of in-person care. A person could use such a platform for a sore throat, for instance, and describe their symptoms to a doctor, and even get a treatment recommendation. But for severe issues, traditional visits are still necessary.
Benefits and Potential Uses of Telehealth
Even with its limitations, telehealth can provide numerous benefits both for patients and medical health providers, especially during the global Covid-19 pandemic. These technologies can be used to expand healthcare access while simultaneously avoiding possible exposure of a physician to the virus, as well as reduce some of the workload healthcare workers face during this difficult time.
The CDC has recommended using telehealth as a way to improve patient care during the Covid-19 pandemic, outlining a few key benefits these health technologies can provide:
- Effectively screening those with Covid-19 symptoms
- Providing care for low-risk non-Covid-19 conditions
- Deciding who should receive additional care based on virtual appointments
- Extending access to people in need of special care
- Monitoring patients with chronic conditions safely
- Creating a good environment for hybrid care (where telehealth and traditional healthcare services are combined)
- Streamlining follow-up sessions
- Improving advanced care planning, etc.
Healthcare providers can use the many digital tools of telemedicine to effectively adapt their services during the Covid-19 pandemic, and ensure their patients are still receiving essential medical care. Since many are self-isolating or have been in lockdown, virtual doctor’s appointments have been the only option for seeing a doctor at all.
Making the Jump to Telehealth
Healthcare providers that are only now embracing telemedicine don’t need to stress too much about making the switch, as most of the resources they can access have been designed to support easy adoption.
One element, in particular, that may present some difficulties has to do with the documentation process, where the information recorded during a virtual appointment must be transferred to the patient’s EMR (Electronic Medical Record). However, even these tasks are easily handled with a virtual scribing service that could allow an even easier transition to telehealth.
Virtual scribing services allow healthcare workers to focus more on patient care and less on the logistics of creating the right documentation in virtual form. One benefit, in particular, that makes this service so appealing is its ability to reduce doctor and physician burnout.
Documentation can take a toll on the physician, as it’s composed of several minute tasks the doctor or nurse must be very careful when performing. This, in addition to the care they must offer a patient, can create unnecessary burdens that could interfere with the quality of the healthcare staff’s work.
The patient is also better off with a professional medical scribe service. Because their doctors no longer need to focus much of their time on data entry, patients get to spend more time with their physicians and receive improved care.
If you are new to the world of virtual digital healthcare services, benefiting from a medical scribe service can have a tremendously beneficial impact on your organization.
Getting Started with Telehealth
Skywriter MD provides a wide array of services that aims to support health organizations manage their telemedicine journey more efficiently. Our solutions range from pre-visit assistance to follow up tasks, and even offline documentation that allows the health provider to streamline their workflow.
If your medical practice is in need of a scribe to improve its services and patient satisfaction, reach out to us today to see how we can help.