Telehealth and impact on Pain Management
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a dramatic and sudden change in access to healthcare forcing a greater emphasis on telehealth. In just about a year the United States entered into a variety of voluntary and mandatory lockdown measures in response to COVID-19. This has forced the face of healthcare to change almost overnight.
Pain is mostly undertreated in the United States, due to several barriers such as:
Geographic distance from specialty treatment providers.
A functional disability that limits mobility.
Economic limitations and
Pain under-treatment worsens the chronicity of pain and emotional disruption that can significantly erode a pain patient's quality of life. The growing field of telehealth offers a novel opportunity to expand pain assessment, consultation, and treatment services beyond the walls of the specialty pain clinic. But there is limited availability of resources describing how to best use this technology to improve access to care.
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth refers to the use of digital information and communication technologies, including computers and mobile devices, to access health care services remotely and manage your health care. These may be some of the technologies you use in daily life or that your doctor uses to improve or support health care services.
Using telehealth services, you can send your health data to your doctor from home. Your healthcare providers can tailor your treatment as per your needs with more data and improve the care you receive.
With the help of telehealth devices, you can send your vitals such as your heart rate, glucose levels, or blood pressure from home. All health data provided to telehealth providers is confidential, secure, and used only with your consent.
The telehealth process is simple. The process involves:
Request a virtual appointment.
Your healthcare provider sends a calendar invite with a link to digital registration.
You complete the forms using the link provided.
Meet your doctor online on the specified date and time.
But, telehealth is not very suitable for medical emergencies. You should call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room if you feel you are experiencing problems such as,
Chest pain or pressure.
Coughing or vomiting blood.
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
Sudden dizziness, weakness, change in vision, slurred speech, or other neurological changes.
Severe or persistent vomiting as well as diarrhea.
Changes in mental status, such as confusion.
How does telehealth work?
Your telehealth platform offers various services including:
Two-way, high-definition video: Using videoconferencing to have a face-to-face meeting with your doctor as if you’re sitting together in their office.
Digital patient registration: Registering online and submit your symptoms, allergies, medications, medical history, and ID cards before your first teleconference visit with your doctor. This helps the doctor to better understand the problem and provide tailored treatment.
Prescription management: Your doctor manages your medications as well as sends your prescriptions electronically to your preferred pharmacy.
Secure online payment: Telehealth software allows you to send your payment securely online.
Chat and photo-sharing capabilities: Another way of telehealth communication is to chat with your doctor and easily upload photos of your symptoms when applicable. The doctor can even reach out to you with messages making communication a two-way street.
HIPAA compliant: Your telehealth interactions and treatment provided by the doctor is secure under HIPAA law, which protects the privacy of your medical records and personal health information. Only authorized users such as doctors and government officials can access your telehealth sessions.
Along with receiving high-quality health care without going to the doctor’s office, you get another benefit from telehealth service. You don’t have to be in the same location as your doctor or physician.
If you live at a distance from your primary care physician or specialist, you can still get the medical care you need in a comfortable, convenient way through telehealth.
How does Pain medicine by telehealth help?
There is strong support for the value of telehealth across a range of medical disciplines and methodologies. As per the recent recommendations for pain management during the COVID-19 crisis, telehealthcare has been identified only a time-limited role for synchronous delivery.
Apart from the COVID-19 crisis telehealth's has demonstrated various abilities in the medical field including:
Collecting and interpreting health data.
Provide educational consultative support for care by multiple medical disciplines, and
Considering the recent surge in implementation.
Pain medicine specialists can interview, observe, and counsel patients suffering from chronic pain through audiovisual and chat-based mediums. But, performing the physical examination remotely remains a challenge. This is a vital part of the accurate and thorough diagnostic evaluation of patients with chronic pain, needing to touch, press, palpate, and move patients. Although, this challenge can be tackled partly, by the presence of an on-site medical clinician seeking consultation, or with less easily accomplished instructional coaching by an attendant caregiver. But, these may not always be available at your ease.
The doctors are satisfied with the remote patient monitoring that involves the reporting, collection, transmission, and evaluation of patient health data through electronic devices such as wearables, mobile devices, smartphone apps, and internet-enabled computers. This technology helps the patients to weigh themselves and transmit the measurements to their doctors easily. The wearables and other electronic monitoring devices are being used to collect and transfer vital sign data including blood pressures, cardiac stats, oxygen levels, and respiratory rates.
Telehealth and Future of Pain Management
Regardless of the current reimbursement challenges, there are several benefits to increasing the use of telehealth to meet the patient’s demand for health care. Telehealth has various benefits, including:
The convenience of care.
Improved worker productivity from not having to take time off and travel to appointments, Decreased costs, and
Clinician time savings.
For the above reasons, doctors and patients are moving forward with more and more telehealth solutions, especially for chronic pain management.
Will insurance pay for telehealth?
Some of the insurance companies cover telehealth, while others don’t. Also, some states require insurance companies to reimburse at the same rate as they cover for in-person appointments. Check with your insurance provider to find out if you’re covered for the telehealth service.
Telehealth has provided opportunities to make health care more efficient, better coordinated, and closer to home. Telehealth has proven to be even more essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. The fear of spreading and catching the virus during in-person medical visits has led to greater interest and use of, technology to provide and receive health care.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from pain, our expert providers at ASP Cares will take care of your health and help you recover.
Call us on (210)-417-4567 to book an appointment with our specialists.