How the Pandemic Has Supercharged the Use of Telemedicine
Aug 26, 2020 | Hospital Solutions
Throughout the pandemic, telemedicine has grown tremendously and it continues to be advantageous for patients across the country. We've seen telehealth reduce patient exposure risks, be cost effective, and time efficient. And while patients are returning to hospitals for elective procedures and visits, telemedicine continues to be an attractive option for many.
Even as the need for virtual visits and remote patient monitoring increases, the use of telemedicine is increasing exponentially, too. A recent report says telemedicine will grow by seven times by 2025 (per Frost & Sullivan). This “tsunami” of growth is validated by some real-world stats, too: between March 2 and April 14, 2020 virtual urgent care visits grew by 683%, and non-urgent virtual care visits grew by a staggering 4,345% (per Healthcare IT News).
It’s true that both doctors and patients had some reluctance about telemedicine pre-pandemic, but many have since become converts. A lot of ailments lend themselves easily to virtual care solutions, especially now.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic began spreading across the globe, waiting rooms of medical offices emptied almost overnight, including our own,” Marcin Chwistek, MD wrote in JAMA. “Many patients with cancer who were not receiving active treatment stayed home, uncertain about their future, often scared and worried. Telemedicine seemed like a perfect solution … and in a blitzkrieg-like move, transitioned many of their non-urgent outpatient visits to virtual.”
Outside of protecting patients and doctors alike from the virus, telemedicine allows health issues to be dealt with in simple and cost-effective ways. For instance, costly trips to the ER. “Patients are being seen in the ER and charged a lot for things they don’t really need evaluated by the emergency department, says Edwin Leap, MD. “I’m not saying they don’t have problems; I’m saying they don’t have options.” Getting into telemedicine has been a difficult road for some doctors, but Dr. Leap says, “telemedicine may add years to our professional lives, and also help preserve the utility of our knowledge and experience far longer than we ever imagined.”
The healthcare industry is calling on Congress to make telehealth more accessible in the long-term. Over 340 medical groups (representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) recently penned an open letter asking Senate and House leaders to advance permanent telemedicine reform.
We’ve achieved new milestones and observed trends such as:
- More than 100k US doctors have used Dialer for over one million regular patient visits, making it the most widely adopted telemedicine solution nationally.
- Older physicians are using telemedicine more often than younger colleagues.
- Adoption of telemedicine is 24% higher among female physicians, possibly because a larger number of female doctors practice in specialties that better lend themselves to telemedicine.
- The top ten medicine specialties who are actively using Doximity Dialer include: Endocrinology, Rheumatology, Nephrology, Gastroenterology, Cardiology, Pediatrics, Urology, Family Medicine, Geriatrics, and Neurology.
If there are any silver linings to the coronavirus, one is that it's been a spark for telemedicine. To help your team make the most of telehealth, read about these tips and tricks for promoting your program.