Dealing with the COVID pandemic forced healthcare providers to find new ways of doing things. Telemedicine took center stage in primary care offices, public clinics, and hospitals across the country. Even the CDC began promoting telemedicine as a viable healthcare alternative. Now that the pandemic seems to be over, it would be a waste to turn back the clock on telemedicine solutions.
The CDC published an infographic at the height of the pandemic, an infographic designed to encourage patients to take advantage of telemedicine opportunities. The infographic explained how telemedicine is practically implemented, how people can use it, and the benefits of doing so. It is something every healthcare consumer and provider should read.
A Simple Definition
The CDC’s COVID-era definition of telemedicine is pretty simple: “telemedicine is the use of electronic information and telecommunication technology to get the health care you need while practicing social distancing.”
It is a fantastic definition with one exception. Telemedicine does not have to be practiced only as a social distancing policy. Rather, it is an effective healthcare tool that can and should be utilized whether society is attempting to social distance or not. That should be the number one take-away from the CDC’s explanation.
The next section in the CDC infographic discusses the benefits of utilizing telemedicine. At the top of the list is consulting with your doctor or other provider without having to go to the office. You use your computer, tablet, or phone. The CDC failed to point out medical kiosks and other similar telemedicine solutions designed by technology companies like CSI Health (you can visit their website at https://csihealth.net/).
That is understandable, given the fact that the point of the infographic is to encourage people to utilize telemedicine while practicing social distancing. All of that notwithstanding, additional benefits pointed out by the CDC include:
- sending messages back and forth using digital means
- remote patient monitoring
- reduced visits and wait times
- financial savings realized by not having to commute.
These are all good things whether the nation is facing a pandemic or not. There is no viable reason to abandon these benefits just because the pandemic appears to have come to an end. In short, it does not make sense to turn back the clock on telemedicine simply because we are no longer trying to social distance.
If It Works…
You have heard the old phrase, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” We could say something similar about telemedicine. If it works, do not stop using it. Do not put it back on the shelf and return to doing things in a less efficient way. In-person visits are still necessary. They still offer something valuable to the healthcare equation. But they aren’t the be-all and end-all of Western medicine. They are not even mandatory.
Telemedicine solutions also have a place at the healthcare table. They are ideal for providing primary care services in rural and underserved locals. Telemedicine is a fantastic tool for addressing crowded primary care offices and emergency rooms. They represent groundbreaking technology for establishing retail primary care clinics staffed primarily by nurses.
Technology has a way of pushing progress forward. The internet is a prime example of that. Look where modern society is today as a result of developing the internet and making it a public utility. Would it make sense to abandon the internet at this point? Obviously not.
Likewise, telemedicine solutions served healthcare providers and patients extremely well during the pandemic. With the pandemic finally reaching endemic stage, there is no need to stop using telemedicine. In fact, we have every reason to continue using and developing it.