It is no secret that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has severely altered many time-tested aspects of healthcare. What was hitherto established and accepted came to be challenged. Alternatives were devised to circumvent the roadblocks. Interestingly, the turnaround time for the processes was severely limited, so healthcare providers were compelled to work at an unimaginable pace, thinking out-of-the-box all the time.
One of the earliest methods to be adopted in the process was to deliberately postpone elective health care and services and use all the available resources and synergies for emergency cases as well as for the hospitalization and treatment of COVID-19 patients. This was done in tandem with sourcing of necessary supplies and materials available from other parts of the world.
As cases continued to rise at an alarming rate, it was witnessed that there was a marked decrease in resiliency to support the massive surges required in the treatment of the pandemic. It is but natural that healthcare providers continued to come under immense pressure not only to provide timely effective medical aid to those affected by the pandemic but also to provide much needed care in other disciplines as well, such as endocrinology, mental health and counseling, etc. Telemedicine works even for serious medical conditions that are heart-related. For example, a 2017 meta-analysis and systematic review of the use of telemedicine for treating chronic heart failure found benefits. These included lower admission rates, shorter hospital stays, and fewer deaths.
Evolving intelligence and acumen on the subject of telemedicine is forcing specialists to learn, adapt and evolve newer methods of communicating with patients, with the objective of providing healthcare services as close as possible to the in-person style prevalent in the pre-pandemic environment.
Broadly categorized, the divisions are –
- Providing timely medication for the treatment and cure of infected COVID-19 patients.
- Continuing with the scheduled regimen of diagnosis and treatment of existing cases of patients, which includes both urgent and elective healthcare requirements and needs.
- Handling and managing supply and demand of all equipment and medicines including vaccines required by frontline workers.
- Added help and support to the provider workforce through adequate contingency plans in workplaces, need-of-the-hour training, providing ancillary support, which may include counselling for mental health issues and childcare.
A fairly clear aspect that emerged was the impact on the existing system, that the ability to deal with an unprecedented situation came under immensely stressful conditions. Even the process to reach out and connect with patients had come under considerable strain owing to the ongoing lockdown periods in the initial stages.
Video conferencing becomes accepted as an established mode of communication in healthcare
As mentioned before, it compelled healthcare specialists to look for alternatives, and video conferencing consequently saw a manifold jump in usage. The benefits of the system for doctors and patients are multiple as listed below –
- Eliminates the need of travel – Function from the comfort and safety of your clinic or home. No need of risking exposure to others who may not be vaccinated.
- Prevents overcrowding of already burdened resources – At a time when healthcare services are already over-strained, this method takes the load off to a considerable extent.
- Quicker assessment of need for personal visits/ consultations – Specialists can easily check and assess if treatment may continue from a distance and decide on the way forward for elective care cases.
- Prescriptions – Write new and renew old.
- Treatment – A range of disciplines are now able to provide effective treatment through video conferencing.
- Therapy – Speech, mental and physical therapy is being offered successfully through the process.
- Access to the best in the field – Consultations with the best specialists are now possible from the remotest rural areas.
- Grouping together of specialists – Allows cross-functional, multidisciplinary groups of specialists to assemble online for meetings, conferences and discussions, without encountering travel hassles.
- Access from anywhere, anytime – Eliminates restrictions of place and time.
In essence – Telemedicine is a beneficial process of healthcare management for patients who may be confined in their homes or may not be able to travel for consultations and treatment to hospitals or clinics. It is also beneficial for those who may prefer not to leave the safety of their home conditions or those who are located far from the clinic.
For patients with anxiety about leaving home, with chronic health conditions that need attention or monitoring, with health issues that make them prone to catching infections, remote care may make the difference between prompt treatment and going without any treatment. In such a scenario, healthcare specialists require an immersive and effective process of video conferencing which provides complete safety and security of each patient’s sensitive information; one that is HIPAA compliant and adheres to existing contemporary rules and regulations as stipulated by governing bodies and administration.
It is interesting to note that the current situation has forced a rethinking of processes in the healthcare sector. It is widely believed that many of these changes are likely to exist even after the pandemic is over. One of the important and lasting takeaways will likely be that just as the virus has accelerated digital literacy, so too telemedicine can accelerate health literacy.
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Key Features of Personify’s Policy ensuring HIPAA compliance are:
- Data security and privacy are of paramount importance to Personify Inc and the Company employs appropriate adequate measures in processes, procedures, policies and technologies to protect personal health information.
- The information security policies and procedures are closely aligned to international standards that are widely accepted. They are constantly reviewed and updated from time to time to incorporate legislation rules and business requirements.
- There are measures in place to protect against accidental unauthorized access, use, destruction or disclosure of data.
- The Company has a strategy for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery that has been designed to safeguard and ensure continuous and seamless service to clients and also protect its people and assets.
- Appropriate curbs and checks on access to personal information.
- Implementation of appropriate measures and controls on data, that includes monitoring and physical checks for storage and safe transfer of data.
- Regular security awareness training programs for employees and contractors.
- Necessary steps to ensure that employees and contractors are aware and incorporate all clauses applicable in contractual conditions and operate according to the Company’s information security policies and procedures.
- The Company requires through the use of contracts and security reviews, that third-party vendors and service providers and subcontractors protect any sensitive information that they may have access to, in accordance with company policies and procedures.
Existing video conferencing solutions used by hospitals and physicians can easily integrate Personify’s product to ensure they are HIPAA-compliant and highly secure, in order to be a trusted telemedicine tool vendor.