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Telemedicine is essential to fighting COVID-19

Aug 17, 2020 by AFP

During the COVID-19 pandemic, access to quality health care is more important than ever. But many Americans are understandably hesitant to visit providers in person because of the risk of contracting the coronavirus.

The solution, according to a new video from Americans for Prosperity’s Health Care Reimagined campaign, allows health care professionals to meet with their patients remotely: telemedicine.

After the federal government and many of the states issued emergency orders to remove unnecessary restrictions on telemedicine, providers began using the service to treat more patients.

The verdict? Telemedicine is working to produce better health outcomes.

“The ability to evaluate and treat, monitor and test patients in the virtual setting, is a huge plus for the patient as well as the providers not being exposed to COVID-19,” says Dr. Nicholas Lorenzo, chief medical officer for MeMD, one of the leading telemedicine companies in the United States.

“The incredible advances in wearable technologies, the Fitbits, and other devices have provided health care providers in the virtual setting with pretty much all of the objective information they need to be able to treat patients.”

Telemedicine has allowed providers to diagnose and prescribe treatment to more patients with COVID-19, helping them recover at home. Providers can also encourage high-risk patients to seek in-person care for more advanced treatment.

This will ensure that health care providers maintain a greater capacity to treat more patients, with a reduced risk of overextending themselves.

Telemedicine also reduces costs for both patients and providers. An Anthem HealthCore study of claims for acute, non-urgent care found that telemedicine saved 6 percent in care costs by providing more targeted care to those who would have otherwise gone to the emergency room.

Those who use telemedicine services tend to like it, too. A survey found that 42 percent of Americans have used telemedicine since the pandemic began, with the majority of respondents who like using telehealth services saying that they find telemedicine more convenient than in-person care (65 percent) and the fact that they don’t have to worry about being exposed to other sick patients (63 percent).

What’s more, the remote service saves Americans years of travel time associated with driving to seek medical care. An analysis of nearly 20,000 clinical records from 1996-2013, showed that telemedicine saved patients nearly nine years of travel time, over five million miles and nearly $3 million in costs.

Telemedicine is essential to providing rural individuals with better care. Millions of Americans live outside of a 30-minute drive to the nearest hospital.

Now, the federal government and the states should permanently remove unnecessary regulations on the delivery of telemedicine. Doing so would help patients now and after COVID-19.

Join the Health Care Reimagined campaign to learn more about the barriers to better care, including COVID-19 testing kitshealth care rulesscope-of-practice regulationsFDA red tape, and medical licensing.