As ‘stay at home’ orders and lockdowns are issued for the second time across a number of cities and states, many are wondering: when and how will it end? While Covid-19 continues to affect Americans’ lives, one bright spot may be major advances in telehealth.
For the decade prior to the pandemic, the potential of video medical visits had languished amidst onerous regulations, consumer uncertainty and distrust, coupled with provider hesitancy with technology and reimbursement issues. At the onset of the pandemic, the ‘red tape’ restricting access to telehealth was removed, in order to prevent patients from visiting virus-stricken in-person care settings. Suddenly, telemedicine’s potential was realized.
In the six months since the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) changed its HIPAA enforcement policies for telehealth, in order to address disruptions in care delivery caused by the public health emergency (PHE), the uptick in usage and the success of telehealth has been dramatic. In a report published on July 28, 2020, HHS reports on the usage of telehealth by Medicare beneficiaries in the intervening months. Key findings include:
· Nearly half (43.5%) of Medicare primary care visits were provided through telehealth in April compared with less than one percent (0.1%) in February before the PHE.
· At the height of the pandemic, 10.1 million beneficiaries received a telehealth service each week, compared with just 14,000 prior to the PHE.
· This increase affected both rural and urban communities, yet was most pronounced in urban areas with the sharpest infection peaks to date, like New York and Boston.
The report also provides insights into the future. It reports that even after in-person Medicare primary care visits resumed in May, demand for telehealth continued to be strong in its new, more broadly available form. A broader provider survey conducted by IQVIA and discussed in the report indicates that providers do not expect telehealth visits to go back to baseline levels after the PHE. This study included both primary care and specialist providers. In this sample, providers reported that they were holding just 9 percent of visits via telehealth prior to the PHE; then that surged to 51 percent during the PHE, and levels are expected to fall back only to 21 percent, after the PHE abates.
It’s quite clear that telehealth is here to stay, with or without the pandemic. The easing of HIPAA restrictions was a helpful key factor, but is that still needed? Patient comfort levels with telehealth have grown with this rapid adoption, and consumer friendly platforms have helped, but it’s also clear that providers and patients deserve more than an emergency solution.
Consumer platforms have serious limitations regarding appropriate record keeping, integration and ongoing care management. Patients need and deserve a digital health platform that improves access to care, a telemedicine experience that delivers high quality remote care, and a secure, patient-centric approach. This is where Adviise steps in.
Adviise is the quality telehealth and digital health platform provider, which unlike others, offers fully HIPAA-compliant technology. Because of that advantage, we have significantly expanded our telehealth activity during PHE. Our company was founded to remedy issues faced by patients and providers, navigating a broken U.S. healthcare system.
As telehealth continues to thrive post-pandemic, we know providers will seek out an encrypted secure telemedicine platform, that offers not only video access, but also real time, online appointment booking and payment. Improving the quality of telehealth for physicians helps rein in rising administrative expenses through efficiency. Adviise offers all those features, which collectively will make a difference for a practice recovering from losses after the lockdown and pandemic period.
Adviise was created as a comprehensive healthcare resource, which did not previously exist, ALL inside one simple site, streamlining services for patients and providers. COVID-19 initiated an unexpected set of opportunities and challenges, but the key to success is flexibility, focusing on meeting people’s needs and Adviise is rising to meet yours. Let us help you embrace this evolving future.