As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many and local and state governments discouraged people from leaving their homes for nonessential reasons. In addition, people were afraid to visit their doctors for fear of contracting COVID-19 while at the medical practice. This resulted in an upsurge in telemedicine—physician care via the telephone or Internet.
The Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Medical Assistance Services issued a memo on March 19, 2020 outlining its flexibilities in light of the public health emergency that included expanded telehealth coverage and the waiver of certain program requirements such as specified service authorizations and prescription drug limitations.
In its definition, “’Telehealth services’ means the use of telecommunications and information technology to provide access to health assessments, diagnosis, intervention, consultation, supervision, and information across distance for both medical and behavioral health services. Telehealth services includes the use of such technologies as interactive and secure medical tablets, remote patient monitoring, and store-and-forward technologies. When delivering services via telehealth, providers are required to adhere to the same standards of clinical practice and record keeping that apply to other covered services.”
Although telemedicine, or telehealth, has been in existence for some time, it has never been more important or more utilized than now. Due to increased demand, healthcare coverage and health care programs are expanding to include telemedicine.
Benefits of Telemedicine
The benefits of telemedicine aid in decreasing barriers to healthcare access.
- Increases healthcare access by reducing the need, time and distance for travel to a health care provider.
- Reduces healthcare costs. Depending on the type of telemedicine access and services rendered, covered patients can pay as little as zero for a physician “visit.” Health care providers also see a savings costs over in-house patient care.
- Patients engage more their own healthcare.
- Doctor/patient relationships enhanced with face-to-face appointments and easy follow-ups.
- Reduces hospital admissions and re-admissions.
CDC Statistics on Telemedicine Use During the Coronavirus
Results from a Research and Development Survey offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), show that prior to the pandemic, medical providers who offered telephone or video appointments ranged approximately 13%. After restrictions were put into place, those numbers increased, with now 30% offering telemedicine access to those ages 18-44 years, 40% to those ages 45-64 years, and 46% to those ages 65 and over, for an average of 38% overall.
The average number of people who scheduled a telemedicine appointment: 29% ages 18-44 years, 28% ages 45-64 years, and 31% for those ages 65 and over, for an average of approximately 25%. Females scheduled approximately 27% of those appointments, while males accounted for 21%.
Related: CDC Telemedicine Survey
For More Information About Telemedicine, Contact Benefit Providers
Benefit Providers/ECCA Payroll Services offers a range of benefits administration and human resources services. We’d be glad to answer your questions about telemedicine and your options as an employer to provide quality health coverage to your employees.
Please contact us at 703-370-2226 for a consultation or quote.