The global COVID-19 pandemic has forced healthcare providers to adapt to physical distancing measures and provide care remotely. Telehealth, where consultations and diagnoses can be provided over the phone or internet, has become a popular option for allowing patients to receive care while reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection through limiting clinic visits. While it is unclear how large a role telehealth will play in a post-COVID healthcare landscape, a recent GlobalData poll suggests that US efforts to improve access to telehealth are largely bipartisan and unlikely to be significantly affected by the US election.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced governments to enact policies like lockdowns and physical distancing measures to slow the spread of the disease. As a result, many healthcare providers turned to remote care options to continue providing care to patients. One growing solution is the use of telehealth, where physicians communicate with patients over the phone or an internet video chat to provide updates, consultations, or diagnoses.
The use of telehealth minimizes clinic or hospital visits, reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission while allowing physicians to continue providing care. As limits on elective procedures have lifted, telehealth consultations may also allow some healthcare providers to schedule multiple procedures in a single visit, allowing them to work through their backlog of procedures more quickly. However, some challenges remain, including concerns over the accuracy of video consultations and providing equal access to patients in rural areas or marginalized groups.
Additionally, questions around how these telehealth consultations will be reimbursed have yet to be fully answered. As the pandemic continues and telehealth becomes more popular, regulators have responded by temporarily relaxing restrictions and changing regulations in order to allow telehealth services to be provided and reimbursed more easily. There is some concern that the upcoming US elections may hinder these efforts. However, in a recent GlobalData poll, 55% of respondents felt that the US election would not sideline these actions, suggesting that support for a move towards telehealth is bipartisan.
As such, it is likely that telehealth will remain a viable option even in a post-COVID-19 landscape. Decisions still need to be made about how telehealth should be implemented to ensure accurate, effective treatment without alienating certain groups, and different fields may end up using different approaches. Regardless of how telehealth is ultimately used, it has become an important part of the healthcare landscape.