Telemedicine Safely Assesses Patients in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Telemedicine
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BY:
Eric Sawyer

Senior Vice President - Healthcare

April 22, 2020

Telemedicine is a nontraditional way of connecting patients to health care services via interactive video or digital consultation. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine is proving its value in connecting patients directly with their primary care provider to conveniently and safely assess them without patients’ having to set foot in a doctor’s office or urgent care clinic.

Reducing COVID-19 Exposures
The benefits of telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic include keeping physical interactions to a minimum. And while in-home testing for COVID-19 is not yet available, the expansion of telemedicine services allows health care providers to determine whether a patient is likely experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, assist in the coordination of testing, provide information on how to administer self-care and advise on home quarantine best practices if someone is infected. This widespread adoption may seem like a small step, but eliminating any exposure to the virus is critical to help reduce its spread to other patients, physicians and medical professionals. Moreover, reducing contact is critical for older individuals, people with underlying health conditions, or those who may have been exposed and are complying with stay‑at‑home mandates.

Telemedicine Making Sharp Gains
With the exponential adoption of digital devices and the growing expectation among patients that healthcare needs to be more convenient and accessible, telemedicine shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, COVID-19-related care has already resulted in over 900 million virtual visits in 2020 according to Forrester Research’s report on virtual care.

On March 4, the Telehealth Services During Certain Emergency Periods Act of 2020 expanded telemedicine by waiving Medicare’s geographical restrictions on telehealth during a public health emergency. The act has encouraged health systems to begin leveraging telemedicine in their own communities, allowing for critical care connections to expand in capacity to help facilitate access to in‑person care for those in critical need and to allow the majority of initial screenings to happen outside the hospital. In addition, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was enacted on March 19, providing a number of new health care-related provisions, including new and expanded telehealth flexibility.

As of today’s date, some health systems have already begun offering virtual screening for COVID-19. In fact, Spectrum Health, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, started free telemedicine screening & assessments for COVID‑19 patients in late March.

Three of the top benefits for telemedicine screening are:

  • It’s an easy way for patients to get tested without the worry of being exposed to COVID-19.
  • It prevents low-risk patients from inundating already packed health care facilities.
  • It allows for triaging of patients at home rather than in an emergency room or a clinic, where other people could become infected.

At Worldwide Facilities LLC, we are committed to providing our retail brokers who work with clients in the health care industry with the insurance products and resources needed to better manage risks. To learn more, please contact Eric Sawyer at esawyer@wwfi.com or 206-538-5082.

For brokers serving the healthcare industry, it is important for your clients to understand the rules, consider the laws and stay informed when it comes to telemedicine compliance. For additional information, read our Special Report: Will COVID-19 Be the Moment of Truth for Telemedicine?

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