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Stay home, save lives: why and how a doctor should transition to telemedicine services

Maria Männik Specialist doctor-resident in Family Medicine

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These days it’s simple to be a hero – you just have to stay home and occasionally moan about being bored on social media. But staying home – both for patients and doctors – can be life-saving even at times without a global pandemic threat. As telemedicine is seeing an unprecedented surge in popularity, it first and foremost offers a safer and more efficient alternative to in-person medical appointments.

During this COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine has surged as an effective and sustainable alternative to traditional doctors’ appointments. Consulting patients digitally minimize the risk of exposure both for the doctors and patients. Of course, telemedicine has its limitations but it isn’t meant to replace traditional medicine but complements it with new communication channels and new technologies.

Telemedicine saves lives and resources

The use of telemedicine is seen as critical for managing this crisis and even got an $8.3 billion emergency funding from the U.S. Congress. Healthcare IT News brings out three main roles of telemedicine technologies during this crisis: a) screening patients remotely, b) helping provide routine care for patients with chronic diseases who are the most vulnerable and c) abling quarantined providers continue seeing patients via remote feeds.

But these implications are not only relevant during a virus outbreak. In addition to overall convenience, physically visiting a doctors’ office is a breeding ground for spreading and catching diseases even on a regular day. For example, consider people with lower immune systems, chronic diseases, the elderly or people who can’t or won’t get immunized – it’s in the best interest of everyone to minimize all real-life appointments to utmost necessity.

As for relieving doctor shortages, it’s especially crucial at times like these, but also in general (there has never been and never will be an overabundance of doctors just lying around). In the case of COVID-19, if a medical professional is put into self-quarantine due to suspected contagion, they can still remotely consult patients and help leverage the pool of available providers. But this can also be a flexible way to engage doctors who can’t or won’t practice full time, e.g. doctors on parental leave or retirement.

Telemedicine is here to stay – how to step onboard

Just as this crisis will irreversibly affect the way we work or even learn, it can become a turning point for medicine. This crisis is accelerating a change that was already underway. Telemedicine and health companies are actually outperforming the market in the overall downfall of the COVID-19 crisis (along with video conferencing and food delivery). Since the end of January, their share price performance has shown a 37% rise.

But implementing telemedicine technologies is not that simple, one might say. There is a learning curve to using telemedicine and many skeptics fear that health providers are not equipped for adopting it quickly enough.

That’s where designated telehealth platforms (e.g. Viveo Health) step in. They relieve medical practitioners from the burden of setting up their own tools and establishing processes. This way the transition is much smoother and the administrative side, like scheduling and billing, is taken care of.

What do you know, the providers might even enjoy the process. As 79% of doctors say that paperwork and administrative burdens are the top issues ruining medicine for them, using a tool that takes most care most of that gruntwork can come as an unexpectedly pleasant perk.

For onboarding Viveo Health, you only need a computer with access to the internet (also, good earphones are highly recommended) and you can import your patient list with a simple excel spreadsheet. Digitize your practice in 10 minutes.

Used sources:

  • Telemedicine during COVID-19: Benefits, limitations, burdens, adaptation. Healthcare IT News (19.03.2020)
  • Would you be happy to see your doctor online? BBC News (12.02.2019)
  • What’s ruining medicine for physicians: Paperwork and administrative burdens. Medical Economics (12.12.2018)
  • Impact of the Corona crisis on startups & tech. Dealroom (24.03.2020)
  • Doctors and Patients Turn to Telemedicine in the Coronavirus Outbreak. The New York Times (11.03.2020)

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