For healthcare providers, telehealth allowed them to continue to serve their patients during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the investment to implement telehealth services has been well worth the expense. Telemedicine has proven beneficial for most healthcare situations and medical needs. Seniors and many other patients who don’t consider themselves computer savvy, are finding the improved technology of telehealth easy to use and convenient. Since patients have so willingly embraced telemedicine, providers will have to continue to offer this service to their patients to remain competitive in this ever-changing industry.
For many people, the convenience and comfort of “visiting” their doctor from the comfort of their own home has been a positive outcome of the pandemic impacts. Especially for people who live in rural communities, trips to the doctor can impact their schedules so much that they tend to put them off. But with telehealth, that travel time is eliminated. For others, it is the comfort of knowing they don’t have to sit in a waiting room with sick people, or take time off work, or find childcare. Whatever the reason, many patients have willingly embraced telehealth, and several of them would like to continue receiving healthcare by using this convenient resource as much as possible.
Aspire Counseling Services implemented telehealth services at the beginning of the pandemic, and it proved to be very beneficial for them. Evan Cason, Director of Patient Engagement for Aspire, stated that at least half of their clientele used the telehealth services during the height of the pandemic. Both individual and group counseling were offered via telehealth, as was in-person services. Many chose to use telehealth to minimize their risk of exposure, and over 15% are still using this service today.
One of the largest benefits that Aspire Counseling Services has seen since implementing telehealth services, is increased attendance from rural communities. Many people would not regularly make the drive for their counseling sessions, but their attendance has been much more consistent through telehealth. Aspire would like to continue to offer this service if insurance companies and regulatory agencies continue to support telehealth.
Healthcare providers have challenges to implementing telehealth services, especially if they do not have the technology in place already. Aspire Counseling Services had already prepared themselves for implementation of telehealth services, and their forward thinking put them ahead of the game, so they were prepared when the pandemic hit. Other entities have had to adapt and incur some costs to implement telehealth, but the payoff has proven to be worth the expense. Aspire did have to make some modifications to their system to allow for longer appointments, which proved beneficial for them.
Aspire Counseling Services recommends that any healthcare providers that implement telehealth services develop policies and procedures for how the services will be used. These policies and procedures are beneficial not only for the staff, but also for the patients. By developing a virtual workflow for how to use telehealth services, you ensure that the process is consistent and understandable for both patients and providers.
Genesis Medical Management thanks Evan Cason at Aspire Counseling Services, for taking the time to share their experiences with using telehealth since the pandemic began. As the technologically savvy population continues to demand quicker and easier access to healthcare, providers will need to decide whether to continue implementing telehealth services for their patients; and insurance companies and regulatory agencies will need to decide whether they will continue to fund telemedicine visits. Genesis Medical Management recommends continuing to offer this service to remain competitive and reach as many patients as possible.
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