How Can Health Care Providers Offer Services During Social Distancing?
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our daily lives in considerable ways. The mandates for social distancing seem to be growing with each day, and many of us must alter our methods of daily living to cope. However, for some of us, being able to cope is far more complicated. Health care facilities cannot just close their doors and wait for this pandemic to be eradicated. Our health care professionals are at the front lines of our defense against this pandemic. But, how can our health care professionals maintain the care of their patients without breaking mandates and placing their clients and themselves at risk? The answer is Telemedicine.
What is Telemedicine?
Health care providers are turning to Telemedicine as a means to continue providing care to their patients without bringing risk to themselves are their patients. The National Institute of Health (NIH) defines Telemedicine as the implementation of communication technologies to provide health care to patients from a distance. The two easiest and widely used applications of Telemedicine currently being used are Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) and Telehomecare.
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) – is the use of information technology to remotely monitor patient status and gather patient data. RPM affords health care professionals, for example, with the ability to monitor a patient’s blood pressure, blood sugar levels, or glucose all from the comforts of the patient’s home. However, using RPM with a patient does require the patient to have special devices at their home to send the data collected back to the health care provider.
Telehomecare – involves a health care provider delivering quality health care through the use of telecommunication technologies such as video conferencing and teleconferencing. This can be executed using an Apple or Android device over Facetime, Skype, Facebook Video Messaging, etc.
Telemedicine use case
Say, a patient has a rash on their arm but does not have the means to get to the medical facility. The health care provider can simply set up a video conference with the patient in which, during the conference, the patient can discuss with the doctor their symptoms and even provide a visual display of the rash. The health care provider can then make a diagnosis based on the evidence and issue treatment, all without the patient leaving their home.
What about security?
Ok, I know what you’re thinking. What about HIPPA and the privacy and security of patient health data (PHI)? Telecommunications like Skype and Apple FaceTime is not HIPAA-compliant. However, Skype is regularly used by businesses throughout the world. Yet Skype does not fulfill the Business Associate Agreement (BAA), which is one of the keys to making HIPAA-compliant. Nonetheless, health care professionals must comply with HIPAA and provide security for PHI. Health care providers can employ professional IT services companies, like eSabers, LLC, to assist them with establishing the most secure telecommunication method for employing Telemedicine such as encrypted transport, encrypted storage for video and audio recordings, and robust access control to telecommunication devices.
Telemedicine is the future of health care. Telemedicine not only offers health care providers a means to safely continue to provide health care during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it provides a future capability for providers to offer health care to their patients from the convenience of their homes. With the growing popularity of Amazon, Door Dash, and other home services, customers (patients) are continually looking for more convenient ways to get the services they require without leaving the comforts of their home. eSabers IT professionals are ready to make Telemedicine work for you.