The coronavirus pandemic continues to create a massive strain on medical resources and threatens to overwhelm hospitals. To reduce the burden on hospitals and slow the spread of the virus, solutions to help “flatten the curve” have emerged, including government mandates to shelter in place, encouraging social distancing, and cancelling of large public gatherings, to name a few.
Technology has also been at the forefront of flattening the curve, with one of the biggest solutions being telehealth. In fact, telehealth is such an invaluable tool in the fight against COVID-19, that the FCC enacted a $200M telehealth initiative to ease the burden on hospitals.
Here are four ways hospitals can use telehealth to help flatten the curve, minimize the risk of spreading the virus, and save precious medical resources.
1. Remote Screening
Not all cases of COVID-19 require serious medical attention. For patients with minor symptoms, such as a cough and body aches, doctors may recommend the best remedy to be stay at home, drink fluids, and rest. It’s imperative that these types of cases remain at home in order to not spread the virus to healthy individuals, or medical staff.
Technology creates new ways of providing patient care without compromising quality or, in times of crises, the safety of others. Virtual care is catching on, with 94% and 99 % of patients being “very satisfied” with their telehealth experience. This means physicians can remotely screen patients, assess risk, answer questions, and recommend treatment methods safely and efficiently. With regular check-ins during recovery, physicians can easily monitor the situation without risk to the doctor or other patients.
2. Prevent Amplifying the Virus
One of the top priorities for hospitals is to prevent becoming an amplifier of the virus and spreading COVID-19 to non-COVID-19 patients. Confined spaces, like waiting rooms, provide ample opportunity for this to occur. Telehealth can separate non-COVID-19 patients from COVID-19-patients, as well as provide separation of medical personnel from highly contagious areas. By moving remote monitoring equipment to separate rooms, hospitals can better distance patients and doctors, provide quality healthcare, and reduce the risk of amplifying the virus.
3. Perform Routine Patient Monitoring
Individuals over the age of 60 and those with compromised immune systems are at the greatest risk if they contract COVID-19. For many of those individuals, routine care is still necessary, but the health risks associated with visiting the hospital are too great. Similarly, hospitals are devoting most of their medical resources to those in critical care, which limits the resources needed to perform routine patient monitoring or rounding.
Telehealth services enable hospitals to maintain the same level of care remotely, while also protecting the health of those most vulnerable to the virus. Providers can balance their time and availability between those on-site patients in need of critical care, and those remotely who need routine care.
4. Maximize Resources
COVID-19 not only impacts urban cities, but also rural areas where access to care and medical resources are limited. Hospitals in remote areas can tap into much needed medical resources virtually by connecting with physicians anywhere, regardless of geographical location. This allows hospitals to extend care, while also maximizing medical resources and seeing more patients.
In the fight against COVID-19, telehealth is a vital solution in flattening the curve and reducing the burden on hospitals and medical resources. Partnering with a service who has knowledge to incorporate telehealth into existing workflows will better equip hospitals to maximize resources, minimize the spread of the virus, and see more patients.