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How the Coronavirus is Spurring Innovation in Healthcare IT & How to Take Advantage of It

With the majority of headlines calling to mind doomsday clocks, terminal illness, and global disaster, it is important to redirect the conversation towards the encouraging aspects of the current challenge. It might seem difficult to conceive of there being some silver lining to the coronavirus, and you would be correct, there is nothing good to be said about a virus that has ruined so many lives and brought global commerce to a halt. What can be said however, is that the coronarius has spurred Americans into action and forced healthcare professionals to evaluate technology and solutions, which might have otherwise remained in the periferee for years to come.

The Two Sides of the Isle

As of today, reports show that over a quarter of a million people have been infected with coronavirus worldwide, but nearly half of that number have already recovered. So there seems to be groups on two sides of the isle: on the one side, we have the group who thinks fear-mongering runs rampant and that the current situation is being blown out of proportion, and on the other side of the isle resides the group who believes all the concern is warranted, and that we are indeed facing a potential pandemic. 

Reports suggest that various beliefs out there are of course more nuanced, but these seem to be the two polarities which individuals are gravitating towards, particularly in America. This article won’t be concerned with exploring the validity of any of these perspectives, because ultimately the validity of such beliefs relies on outcomes that simply remains to be seen–and this is why it is important to shift the focus from tumultuous reactionism toward considering the long-term outcomes, which we see coming to fruition right now. 

The Medical World After the Emergency

 The greatest developments have occurred within the American philosophy of emergency response. When faced with a global pandemic, people everywhere have been forced to consider the question, are we prepared? Unfortunately, the answer for most people has been “no.” This includes both average civilians, and as we have seen, medical professionals as well. Medical professionals are the individuals that have been most impacted by this realization, because they are the workforce tasked with curtailing a true corona outbreak. So for them the idea that their preparedness has been inadequate is destabilizing to say the least. 

So what does this mean for the medical world after coronavirus? Well, when you have an entire group of medical professionals become acutely aware of the limitations of their profession, what you see in response is increased creativity and innovation. Medical professionals around the country who have relied on a localized private practice are now looking into new ways to take care of their patients. The primary direction of such innovation is towards taking advantage of existing internet technology. 

The industry of telemedicine, the practice of delivering medical care over geographical distance, has been active and growing exponentially in recent years, but despite this growth many medical professionals have simply been resistant to it, likely due to the radical changes involved in shifting one’s practice online. Spurred on by the coronavirus however, more medical professionals are moving their practice into the next decade, just as hospitals and schools follow suit and shift more of their programs into the digital realm. 

Telemedicine and the Future of Healthcare

In 2020 you can do nearly anything online, and frankly it is a little bizarre that healthcare has been late to the party. Industry experts suggest that this is largely due to generational gaps in comfortability with internet systems and highly traditionalized healthcare education. But this is all changing due to the frightening reality posed by the coronavirus. So what kind of care can you expect to receive through telemedicine? Here’s a quick breakdown of all the various types of telemedicine you can find listed by HealthIT.gov–many of which are reimbursed by healthcare companies and medicare.

  • Live, interactive video consultation: uses videoconferencing technology to facilitate a patient visit with both physician and patient present at the same time, usually incorporating both audio and visual chat as well.
  • Store-and-forward consultation: captures information at a patient’s location to be later analyzed and evaluated by a physician at another site–an excellent option for anyone looking to engage in testing with telemedicine.
  • Hybrid consultation: uses components of live, interactive video consultation and store-and-forward consultations.
  • Professionals may also be interested in using telehealth technology for non-clinical telehealth services, such as:
  • Provider training
  • Administrative meetings
  • Continuing medical education
  • Patient education
  • Public health and health administration

So how do you find the right telemedicine professional near you? While the answer to this would have been cut-and-dry a few weeks ago, now you have many new options. One of the most relevant tips here is to contact your existing healthcare provider and ask them directly if they offer, or plan to offer, any telemedicine capabilities. This would allow continuity of care and all of the conveniences therein. 

If however, you find that your existing healthcare professional does not offer telemedicine options, then thankfully there are a wealth of online resources that can designate your best options. While it may be counterintuitive, there can still be state requirements through your health insurance that require your healthcare provider be within a certain state or region. For this reason, check out this guide to the best telemedicine providers in your area.  

Another quick tip here is that–just like any other healthcare company–it can take some time to transfer the necessary files and patient history information. So if you do plan on taking advantage of telemedicine–particularly if you are in the mindset of addressing coronavirus concerns or testing–it is important that you start the process as soon as possible. Just as many medical professionals are flocking to telemedicine, so are new patients, so while there are more telemedicine providers than ever before, the supply might fall short of the demand, so don’t miss your chance if it is something that you think could benefit you or your loved one.

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