The medical industry’s establishment of virtual healthcare is one example of how this pandemic is helping us develop as a society.
The medical industry’s establishment of virtual healthcare is one example of how this pandemic is helping us develop as a society. It is true that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected society in a variety of detrimental ways — from economic to emotional — but with the detriment comes the inevitable reality that the pandemic is forcing many industries to reshape how they operate, including the medical industry.
Who knew a revolution would be a result of a life-threatening pandemic? Yet, with COVID-19 resulting in limited face-to-face interaction, organizations that typically rely on interpersonal communication have no choice but to come up with innovative solutions to continue providing their services without compromising on health and safety. As a law firm that focuses its practice on the legal representation of clients who are victims of medical malpractice, the medical industry is always a hot topic of interest for Raynes | Erickson.
Today, we will be highlighting how virtual healthcare has made its way into the ‘new norm’ of society, for medical professionals and patients alike. We will discuss what is virtual healthcare (or telehealth or telemedicine), the differences between a virtual doctor and nurse, and how virtual clinics work.
Virtual Healthcare vs. Telemedicine (or Telehealth)
What was going on with virtual healthcare prior to the pandemic…did it not exist, or most of the world simply did not find it a necessity because demand did not exist? Back when face-to-face communication was not something to avoid (unless you are an introverted introvert by nature), the use of telemedicine or telehealth was very minimal and seemed more like a luxury, and that includes virtual healthcare (yes, there is a difference between telehealth and virtual healthcare).
In general, the term telemedicine refers specifically to the treatment of various medical conditions without seeing the patient in person. Telehealth (or telemedicine) could be defined as the remote provision of health care services that utilizes and relies on technology to exchange information for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Patients use basic communication tools like phone calls, text messages, emails, or online portals to communicate with their doctor virtually. So, what is virtual healthcare?
Care Innovations helps us understand what virtual healthcare is and how it fits into telehealth. According to their article on virtual healthcare: “Virtual healthcare refers to the virtual visits that take place between patients and clinicians via communications technology — the video and audio connectivity that allows virtual meetings to occur in real-time, from virtually any location.” The article further explains: “A virtual visit can be a videoconference between a doctor and a patient at home.”
Virtual healthcare (such as virtual visits) has several benefits, especially during this pandemic. For example, virtual visits allow a patient to interact with an offsite medical specialist via a high-definition conference hookup at his or her local clinic, instead of traveling to another city and risking or increasing the potential to either get sick or spread sickness. Another advantage is that virtual healthcare can also give patients the opportunity to more readily find qualified second opinions online.
In that same article, we are also reminded that while virtual healthcare is a term that is sometimes used synonymously with telehealth or telemedicine, they are not the same. Namely, virtual healthcare is actually a component of telehealth, which is a broader term encompassing the entirety of remote and/or technology-driven healthcare. Think of telehealth as the tree trunk of the ‘new norm’ medical industry and virtual healthcare as one of the branches.
How Virtual Clinics Work
Healthcare providers may use telehealth platforms like live video, audio, or instant messaging to address a patient’s concerns and diagnose their condition remotely, as noted by InTouch Health. This may include giving medical advice, walking them through at-home exercises, or recommending them to a local provider or facility.
You could expect that the doctor will have your chart in front of him/her just like an in-person visit. The doctor will go through your medical history with you. Make sure you have paper and pen ready, so you can take notes. Depending on your symptoms, the doctor may have you take your temperature, measure your heart rate, and/or take your blood pressure (if you have a blood pressure monitor at home).
Such visits can be used to:
- Screen patients who have symptoms of COVID-19, then advise them.
- Provide low-risk urgent care for non-COVID-19 conditions, then advise patient.
- Recommend primary care providers and specialists for chronic health conditions.
- Provide coaching and support for patients managing chronic health conditions.
- Participate in therapy.
- Monitor clinical signs of certain chronic medical conditions.
- Engage in case management for patients who have difficulty accessing care (those with limited mobility, or in very rural settings).
- Follow up with patients after a doctor visit or hospitalization.
- Plan and counsel to document preferences for a life-threatening event or medical crisis.
- Provide non-emergent care to patients in long-term care facilities. ( https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/telehealth.html)
Taking Advantage of Telehealth Via Virtual Healthcare
Fortunately, virtual healthcare by means of digital technology is making it easier for healthcare professionals to communicate with their patients, breaking down the barriers that can impede a patient’s access to medical care. With the help of live video, audio, and instant messaging, patients can now interface with healthcare providers from the comfort of their own home. Of course, we recognize that treating a patient remotely can have its set of challenges. Therefore, we kelp in mind that if a patient is dealing with an emergent or serious condition, the remote provider will advise them to seek in-person medical care.
Nonetheless, during this COVID-19 period where face-to-face interaction is limited, advances in the medical industry such as the demand and supply of virtual healthcare are proving beneficial. Such is especially true for those who a) are unable to come in contact with others due to sickness or exposure to sickness and b) live in rural communities, who frequently would otherwise need to drive long distances to their local doctor’s office or to see a specialist.
Because our clients are often seeking a lawyer with medical malpractice expertise, Raynes | Erickson is always eager to understand the shifting scene of the medical industry, especially now more than ever. Contact us to learn more about your legal rights and how our litigation team can help you receive the compensation you deserve.