On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially declared Coronavirus Disease (officially COVID-19) a pandemic. We’ve seen areas of China and Italy basically shut down, school districts close, and some of the largest conferences across the United States canceled. There’s also talk of the first cancellation of the Olympics since World War II.
In the United States alone, there are nearly 900 million physician office visits per year, not including emergency department visits, hospital utilization, and other healthcare treatment like mental health and substance abuse. What happens if the virus starts to affect your practice?
HIPAA compliant telemedicine or telehealth allows healthcare providers to see patients by using a secure video connection or a secure messaging portal. The Center for Disease Control has urged healthcare organizations across the United States to step up their telehealth presence in preparation for the Coronavirus Disease. A bill signed into law on March 6 by President Trump included coverage for telehealth and lifting the geographic restrictions for Medicare.
Why Your Practice Should Use Telemedicine
No matter what demographic of patients you see, there are several reasons for a practice to add telemedicine.
- The safety of you, your medical providers and staff.
- The safety of your patients.
- Reduction in quality of care.
- Loss of revenue.
- A new, more convenient method of care for patients.
Every time someone walks into your office with COVID-19, they’re potentially exposing your team and other patients. According to the CDC, Coronavirus spreads by respiratory droplets released by coughing or sneezing. As the virus spreads, patients may be unable or unwilling to come to a healthcare facility for treatment. Missing treatment equals missed appointments. Missed appointments equal lower quality of care and less revenue. Fortunately, implementing telehealth can be a permanent part of your practice and aid in reducing no-show rates.
What to Consider Once You Decide to Implement Telemedicine?
Upon starting telemedicine, determine what types of services you’ll be providing. In addition to the law mentioned at the top of the article, the Center for Connected Health Policy shares the policy breakdown state by state.
Telemedicine is still new to many providers and patients. Due to the coronavirus, this could be the first time many patients try telemedicine. Mend is an easy-to-use web-based telemedicine platform. Mend can be easily accessed from the web on a laptop, desktop, or mobile device. Telemedicine platforms like Mend can operate as a standalone solution or integrated with your EHR/PM. Mend can have your organization up and running in 72 hours to help combat the virus. Down the road, Mend can be integrated into your EHR and Practice Management solution to be a long term part of your practice.
Once your practice has selected the services to provide and a platform, informing patients with a landing page like this one will help set expectations of the new service.
Telemedicine will allow your staff, providers, and patients to communicate from the convenience of their own home. Mend’s telemedicine platform is used by organizations across the country to facilitate virtual visits. Our team consists of healthcare technology experts, former practice managers, and more. We’re fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, and patients just like you. Let us know how we can help here.