In a world where the coronavirus has changed the way we live, it is only natural that it should change the way patients approach their health care.
Although many of these changes have been for the better, some have been for the worse, and it is important to highlight the options that are available to people who may be experiencing symptoms they haven’t had before.
The Good: The Rise of Telehealth
In 2019, only 11% of Americans booked virtual visits, where they contacted their doctor and arranged a visit through web-conferencing software. In 2020, this has already reached 46% and will continue to rise.
Providers are better prepared for such visits, and with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), as well as private insurers, all on board and covering them, the future of American healthcare will never be the same.
Imagine the benefits of a healthcare system where patients can access their personal doctor, or another, from the comfort of their own home without the hassle of arranging transport or sitting in a waiting room with other potentially infectious patients.
Chris Jennings, who was a health care adviser to the Obama and Clinton administrations, believes that telemedicine has ‘probably been accelerated by a decade.’ That’s quite a progression.
The Culture Shift: The End of Nursing Homes
With one third of coronavirus-related deaths having happened in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities, it’s not hard to see why people may be reluctant to put themselves or others into such facilities in the future.
Although the reality of around-the-clock care is appealing, as is the notion of a community environment, the prospect of vulnerable adults all being placed in close proximity to one another may become less and less conscionable to concerned relatives.
Furthermore, the quarantine of loved ones, no longer able to see their family or leave the facility, has made such a system feel more like a prison than a comfortable place for elderly relatives to spend their twilight years.
Instead, families may choose to use home health aides instead. Although the care is not as comprehensive, it does allow their elderly relatives to stay in their homes or the homes of their sons or daughters.
The Bad: Postponing Necessary Care
Due to valid concerns over the infectiousness of the coronavirus, some patients have been avoiding medical treatment altogether, whether it be for chest pains, stroke symptoms or likewise.
Others are avoiding assessment due to fears over the costs. According to one Gallup poll, 1 in 7 Americans would avoid seeking treatment for the vague symptoms of a dry cough or fever, which could be a sign that they had the coronavirus; even when questioned directly about whether or not they would present if they had COVID-19, 9% still said they would not seek health care due to the potential costs involved.
This is, of course, a major concern, and the convenient option of a virtual visit should appeal to such patients. If you are struggling with symptoms of some sort, coronavirus-related or not, there are cheaper options than a physical or Emergency Department visit available to you.
A virtual visit is roughly half the cost of a physical visit and can potentially get you the diagnosis you need. For many, a diagnosis of the coronavirus will not be a life-changing event unless you have underlying conditions; however, it may help you take the steps you need to assist in your recovery and prevent transmission to others.
And if you do have underlying conditions, such a diagnosis is vital for your long-term health.
If this is you, don’t hesitate — contact your health care clinic today and arrange a virtual visit with an online doctor.