COVID-19 Healthcare Learning - Topics Science and Technology

READ: The pandemic is normalizing telehealth, is that a good thing?


Stuck at home, people are consulting doctors over the internet rather than in person—an approach to healthcare with many lasting benefits.

While the chance of COVID-19 is bigger for older and sicker patients, there are many younger and healthier people dying from the disease. People of all ages are nervous—rightfully so—about visiting hospitals and clinics during now. Healthcare organizations are advising people to remain home unless they require urgent medical attention and are recommending virtual treatment options instead. Probably, many are forgoing useful treatments out of fear too.

Medicare, knowing that every one of its beneficiaries, by definition, are high risk, changed the rules and announced that telemedicine could replace in-person visits to scale back the spread of coronavirus. This created a large opportunity for telemedicine companies to serve an outsized and brand-new market. Under this new waiver, Medicare now pays for telemedicine at the identical rate as in-person visits. Previously, Medicare had strict requirements for telehealth, requiring that patients board a geographic area and travel a neighborhood medical facility to conduct a virtual visit, and usually not allowing patients to receive telehealth services in their home. Additionally, private insurance companies like Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield are waiving copays for telemedicine for several members until a minimum of June.



All telemedicine providers are seeing a large uptick in demand, including Doctor on Demand (an investment of my firm, Venrock), Teladoc, MDLive, and American Well. The Department of Health and Human Services also announced that video platforms, like FaceTime and Skype, are temporarily acceptable for healthcare providers to use. Zoom has also been given temporary approval, although the platform is currently struggling with some security issues. There’s also an increase in services specifically designed for telehealth, like VSee, Doxy, and thera-Link. COVID-19 is causing several people to do telemedicine for the primary time. And based upon app store reviews, people adore the experience.

Demand for telemedicine will still grow rapidly. Sadly, we’ll be addressing high risk from COVID-19 until a vaccine is developed or enough people are infected to ascertain herd immunity in our population. this may cause people to still depend on telemedicine whenever possible. Habits that we form now will grow into preferences and default behaviors, and patients won’t want to return to a pre-COVID-19, less-convenient kind of in-person healthcare.



Doctors, too, will prefer telemedicine because it enables them to spend longer doing what they like—caring for patients. With virtual visits, doctors can sign in with sicker patients more often and might learn more about them by seeing their living environments through video. for example, do they need access to safe housing? Do they need pets that will exacerbate or help their medical condition? Do they need the food they need? Do they need evidence of the social support needed to assist look after them? All of those factors are important and hard to assess in an in-person office visit. It’s also easier to supply more thorough and comprehensive care through telemedicine.

With in-person visits, it’s incredibly difficult to urge a medical aid provider and a specialist within the exam room at the identical time, but virtual visits can make group care possible. patients should possess their doctors’ coordinated care, and much easier to try and do it along with the patients in real-time. Today, plenty of your time and data is lost between visits from medical aid doctors to specialists. We still depend upon faxes after visits for an excellent deal of coordination. Providers may also use technology to tailor and improve care—such as issuing surveys about symptoms, engaging in text-based conversations with patients and caregivers, and even conducting group educational visits with patients with similar conditions to form peer support. Insurance companies will find that this approach lowers the overall cost of care since they’ll avoid ER visits and permit patients to access care earlier while complications could also be able to be averted. Doctors will find that telemedicine is more profitable since it eliminates a considerable amount of the overhead required to run a conventional medical office. This shift to virtual care has been on the horizon for a few times, but COVID-19 has ushered during this new wave of telemedicine with increased urgency. this can result in an outsized number of recent startups focused on a way to deliver care in previously untapped markets. Specialty medicine also will go virtual, particularly specialties like cardiology, where high force per unit area and other heart conditions may be monitored through connected devices with more precision than quarterly office-based force per unit area checks and EKGs.

Pulmonary medicine may also be virtualized to improve the treatment of asthma through connected peak flow meters and emphysema with connected oxygen monitors. Diabetes management is that the furthest together with companies like Livongo, Virta (one of Venrock’s investments), and Omada already caring for thousands of patients. Behavioral healthcare also encompasses a huge opportunity to grow, particularly for the Medicare population, which hasn’t traditionally had access.

I’m confident that we’ll develop a vaccine and effective treatments for COVID-19. But even after the pandemic is in restraint, it’s visiting have a long-lasting impact on all of our lives. One solacement is that virtual care will become a way integral a part of healthcare for all us, and this can result in better care and more accessible care.

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