The Importance of Telehealth in Managing COVID-19

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As the coronavirus continues to spread and disrupt our lives – and with testing kits not yet widely available – people are looking for ways to avoid large public crowds and offices. Many are wary of visiting doctors’ offices or other medical facilities for fear of catching or transmitting COVID-19. The use of telehealth and digital care solutions is critical for managing this pandemic. They are key components in providing accurate information, calming the worried, providing safe avenues to screen for coronavirus, and ensuring that the ill continue to receive routine care without exposing themselves to this extremely contagious virus. Additionally, with an increasing number of businesses and companies moving to in-home work, telehealth provides convenient access to medical providers for the employee and their family whether their concerns are directly related to coronavirus or ongoing medical care.

Nearly all health insurance plans offer the option of talking to an appropriate medical provider online as an alternative to heading to an emergency room, urgent care center or physician office. During this time of unknown, individuals can utilize telehealth to get guidance about whether they need to be seen or tested for COVID-19 instead of showing up unannounced at the emergency room or doctor’s office. Telehealth visits are generally sufficient for screening patients, assigning a risk category, answering questions and recommending the next steps a patient should take. Patients, particularly those who would be at high risk for a serious illness if they were infected, can also opt to substitute a doctor’s visit with a virtual visit when it is a routine check in with a specialist or primary care provider.

Telehealth service providers are comprehensive and range from family practitioners and pediatricians, to emergency medicine, mental health experts and chronic disease managers. With the ability to write prescriptions, combined with pharmacies now providing options for curbside delivery, a patient can receive the care they need without exposing themselves to the risks of visiting medical providers during the coronavirus outbreak.

Telemedicine companies are reporting an increase in activity, both from those who want to know more about what they can do to minimize their risk of catching coronavirus and those with worrisome symptoms. Insurance carriers have begun to waive the cost sharing associated with telemedicine to encourage more utilization during this unsettling time. We recommend that as you communicate with your employees on the various issues impacting the workplace, you remind them of their telehealth benefits, the process for registering and advantages of cost-effective digital care both now and in the future.

Please note that the information contained in this posting is designed to provide general awareness in regard to the subject matter covered. It is not provided as legal, medical, or tax advice, nor is it intended to address all concerns in your workplace or for public health. No representation is made as to the sufficiency for your specific company’s needs. This post should be reviewed by your legal counsel or tax consultant before use.