No doubt, Telemedicine gains increasing acceptance due to this coronavirus outbreak. There arises a bigger question if telemedicine continues possibly and even grow post COVID – 19 and as such become the new normal or is this just a passing phase that has gained popularity out of necessity and will wane off. As soon as patients can regularly and without fear of disease visit their doctors, Telemedicine may go back to its earlier standing as more of an exception rather than the norm.
Better time management with Telemedicine
Everyone has 24 hours a day and how we make the best out of it completely lies in our hands. Thereby, the rarest resource we have today is time. In that way, telemedicine offers a more efficient solution to manage the time of patients without negatively impacting the time allocation of doctors. Accordingly, it appears that as patients, as well as doctors, look at ways to improve efficiency, telemedicine will only grow in the future.
Telemedicine and Reimbursement levels
The role of government policies in growing telemedicine services is critical. The norms for Medicare reimbursement rates will impact that pre corona was somewhat lower than in-office visits, which created a financial disincentive for doctors to encourage it. During the COVID – 19 pandemic, the Medicare rates for telemedicine are currently very close to those for the in-office visits, and therefore healthcare providers are not negatively impacted.
Benefits offered by Telemedicine
- Improved time management and productivity – If we see from a macroeconomic perspective, the patients hold the need to travel to the doctor’s office during work hours and allow buffers for traffic. The amount of work that is lost to medical visits will be significantly curtailed, and as such will increase productivity. If telemedicine continues to grow, it would appear that it will affect the amount of time and the office set up that healthcare providers have.
- Telemedicine benefits are different for different specialties – For mental health providers in general, psychiatry in particular, the shift to telemedicine makes sense and can be done without encountering any headwinds.
- New business and care delivery models likely to emerge – To some extent this happens, those doctors may not need the type of office setups they currently have but might need to physically see patients one or two days a week. We also believe that this could create new business models of shared medical office spaces.