by Miriam Paramore, President, OptimizeRx
Telehealth has emerged as the safest and most viable way to ensure patients have access to medical care and consults during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While telehealth is not new, it is experiencing unprecedented demand as well as an easing of regulations during the coronavirus crisis. I believe this is an extraordinary moment for telehealth and it is having a major impact on the healthcare industry. The ways in which we communicate have been drastically altered and finding new ways to communicate between patients and providers and connect them with key healthcare stakeholders has become paramount. We need to embrace the flexibility and power of digital tools to keep vital health and treatment information flowing.
We are seeing the telehealth industry grow existing platforms and develop new communication technologies to deliver healthcare, health information or health education remotely. Consumers are getting the health support they need from a distance and physicians are quickly pivoting to treat patients outside of the office setting. Some existing platforms for virtual medical care are seeing an increase of over 100% as compared to the first week of March. At OptimizeRx, we are seeing health technology helping people who are in need of mental health services talk to counselors without missing any appointments. We are also seeing patients who are recovering from cardiac incidents continue their rehabilitation through virtual care. Innovative new platforms are connecting life sciences to providers who treat patients with chronic diseases so there is no disruption in treatment.
As the industry begins to evaluate the long-term use of these platforms, health technology companies can look for the opportunities in the care journey where patients don’t need to be seen in-person and where telehealth can be offered on a more permanent basis. On the patient side, virtual care provides better healthcare accessibility. Patients who are in rural or remote locations or those unable to physically get to a medical office can now have access to quality healthcare. Consumers are finding telehealth convenient as they can integrate healthcare into their daily lives from their homes. On the provider side, telehealth is offering physicians the ability to have a range of clinical data and health information in front of them while they are treating patients. Physicians are leveraging telehealth beyond sick patients and utilizing the platform to refer patients to specialists, provide prescriptions and patient support programs, and strengthen adherence to treatment. Digital communications can make the difference as to whether a patient can get access to a medication and afford it.
As we begin counting months in this crisis, both patients and physicians are adapting and seeing benefits of utilizing telehealth and we can only hope that broader telehealth initiatives persist after the pandemic subsides. We are helping change the mindset that virtual healthcare technology is just as much a part of our healthcare delivery as computers are. Our health tech community is providing solutions and offering platforms that are equal or better than healthcare prior to COVID-19. Let’s continue to work together to step up and lead the way during the crisis.