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Telehealth During Pandemic

Telehealth During Pandemic

Telehealth during pandemic times has its benefits and limitations. This article looks at what telehealth is and its importance to medical practice.

Overview

The emergence of COVID-19 wreaked a lot of havoc on the healthcare system. Telehealth stepped into the spotlight, and it is helping many organizations and caregivers respond better to the needs of people who have contracted the virus and others who need medical attention during the pandemic.1

Telehealth is currently being used in diverse ways, positively impacting the healthcare system. However, despite its efficacies, it does have some limitations.

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What is Telehealth?

Telehealth is also known as telemedicine. It involves using communication technologies and digital information to access medical services remotely and manage health. These communication technologies can include mobile and computer devices like smartphones and tablets. It can also involve the provision of telemedicine from a mobile van in rural areas or medical offices by healthcare providers.2

How Does Telehealth Work?

Telehealth application or working approach is diverse; however, the “working specifics” usually depend on your doctor's recommendations. Here are two of the most common ways telehealth works:

  • A Patient Portal:  It lets you get and send emails to your nurse or doctor, set up appointments, and ask for prescription refills. A patient portal uses a password and username to allow you access the portal. Your health care provider can also share imaging or lab test results while explaining their meaning, making it faster and more effective than communicating via phone.
  • Virtual Appointments: Health care providers can set up and have appointments with patients through video conferences or phone calls. You can also hold these meetings with your behavior and mental health professional in case of emergencies.3

What Can Telehealth Treat?

Telehealth can have several health conditions ranging from mild to chronic illnesses. Here are some examples of illnesses that telehealth can treat. 

Headaches

This is one of the easiest things to treat in telehealth. All you need to do is tell the doctor your symptoms, and he’ll prescribe one or two medicines for you. 

Skin Conditions Such As Acne or Rashes

This falls under Teledermatology. It is very easy to proffer solutions. You just need to send a picture of the mile, rash, or other skin conditions. Then you’ll get a quick reply whether you need further examination or mild treatment with creams and other topical agents.

Musculoskeletal Conditions Such As Backaches

Telehealth can also treat skeletal conditions like backaches or any form of body ache. You must log your complaints, and your healthcare provider will assess them and then give you the best possible solution.

Mental Health Such As Anxiety or Depression & Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Through telehealth, you can join various support groups online to help you get better. You can also communicate with your therapist or healthcare provider for possible solutions. Gastrointestinal symptoms such as constipation and other gastrointestinal issues can also be treated with telehealth.

Chronic Conditions Such as Diabetes

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services implemented several administrative measures to hasten telehealth adoption and awareness. Numerous telehealth flexibility options are temporary and will expire once the COVID-19 public health emergency is over. Nevertheless, these “temporary” telehealth approaches have provided treatment templates that can be improved to ensure even more effective and patient-friendly delivery of quality healthcare.

The COVID-19 public health emergency declaration stopped being effective on July 14, 2022. However, the Consolidated Appropriations Act mandated a 151- days extension before the COVID-19 public health emergency policies expire. This is to allow for a transition time. The Consolidated Appropriations Act also includes policies to improve telehealth care.4

Impact of Pandemic on Telehealth

Telehealth was routinely used to connect people to their healthcare providers when physical meetings were not important or impossible. It was also used in rural areas to ensure access to healthcare services. However, telehealth use experienced a massive rise during the pandemic when physicians and patients were physically separated. Most clinic’s virtual visits went up by over 80%.


After the declaration of the public health emergency in 2020, every medical center expanded coverage of telemedicine services to make it conducive to getting medical services while maintaining the COVID-19 guidelines. This also increased in telehealth investment. 

Types of Visits for Telehealth

There are several types of visits for telehealth – all of which serve different purposes and functions – and some of them include:5

  • Wellness visits
  • Nutrition counseling:
  • Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Physical or occupational therapy
  • Some urgent or emergent care obtaining
  • Referrals or prescriptions
  • Fertility counseling

How Are Hospitals Adapting to Telemedicine During the Pandemic?

Although the global health sector is always primed to deal with crises, telemedicine technologies are not treatment approaches that have been extensively used. With time, however, many hospitals have adapted telehealth technology to protect patients and staff.


For example, many hospitals integrated several telehealth solutions to monitor patients in isolation and patients in the quarantine ward. Overall, there are two major ways hospitals are adapting to telemedicine. They’re by expanding programs and training.

Expanding Programs and Training

Hospitals are investing in all forms of telehealth carts and video hardware to enhance remote consultation. Training is prioritized for hospitals that did not have telehealth before the pandemic or those that need additional “unfamiliar” devices. It should be said that this training process isn’t usually easy as healthcare professionals must alternate between focusing on patient care and ensuring they can use the devices they need to provide said quality care.

Most telehealth service providers offer training to help users understand their software to take care of this challenge.6

Benefits of Telehealth During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Telehealth During Pandemic

There are several ways telehealth has contributed to effective patient treatment during covid. They include:

  • Receiving Routine Care More Conveniently: Telehealth used in healthcare can allow people to get care from the convenience and privacy of their homes. 
  • Lower Costs for Patients: Studies show that using telemedicine helps to save money by reducing the time you spend in the hospital.
  • Improving Patient Access to Specialty Care & Better Care Models For Patients With Chronic
  • Conditions: Telehealth service allows people with disabilities to get care by affording them easy access and connection to treatment specialists.

Limitations to Telehealth From COVID-19?

There are two major limitations to telehealth in pandemics. They include:

  • Not Yet Equipped for Telemedicine: This is the most cogent limitation to medical telehealth during pandemics. While some hospitals are equipped with telehealth care, many hospitals are not. Telemedicine hasn’t been used until the emergence of COVID-19. However, many private insurance companies and governments are enforcing policies to promote its use.6
  • Lack of Hardware: The lack of hardware means a lack of facilities to implement telehealth medicine. Most hospitals must settle for using very basic telehealth equipment; however, the fact remains that the better the technology, the more the patient experience improves and the range of services that can be offered.6

Find Out More About Telehealth At Genesis Recovery

Are you looking for effective and convenient telehealth treatment or want to learn more about what telehealth offers? Reach out to us at Genesis Recovery today and get answers to all the telehealth-related questions you might have.