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Virtually Perfect For COVID-19

A fever, a lingering cough, difficulty breathing — in a not-so-distant past, these symptoms would have had most patients headed to see their healthcare provider without thinking twice.

Since the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), healthcare workers and patients alike have a newfound concern regarding face-to-face appointments.

Enter telehealth, which has long been an option — albeit a less popular one. Telehealth is a platform that connects healthcare providers and patients via phone or video chat. It allows important appointments to continue to take place, blossoming into one of the most essential tools in healthcare.

 

The Demand for Telehealth During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Atrium Health in Charlotte, North Carolina has experienced a 500% increase in telehealth usage during the novel coronavirus outbreak.

 

As telehealth has become increasingly utilized during the COVID-19 outbreak, it is proving itself to be a commodity to the world’s current needs. Here are 4 benefits telehealth provides during a pandemic.

1. Telehealth minimizes the risk of coronavirus exposure for healthcare workers and patients.

Hospitals are flooded with patients with this highly-contagious virus, making healthcare workers among those most exposed.

 

How Easily Does Novel Coronavirus Spread?

As of mid-March, 2020, the average coronavirus patient infects at least 2 other people — making it more contagious than the seasonal flu.

 

Telehealth minimizes exposure to novel coronavirus by reducing the number of infected patients in hospitals. It does this without compromising care, as most patients with COVID-19 experience a mild illness and are able to recover safely at home.

2. Telehealth can protect COVID-negative patients seeking care — including those that are high-risk.

Similar to social distancing and business closures, many healthcare facilities are cancelling non-essential appointments. With telehealth, many of these appointments can continue — without the risk of further spreading the coronavirus.

Also, there are many patients who still need routine care, but are at risk of serious complications from COVID-19. This includes the tens of millions of Americans who are over 65 years old or have an underlying health condition, such as diabetes, and immunocompromisation (such as from cancer treatment).

The coronavirus pandemic doesn’t mean high-risk patients should completely halt critical care. In fact, it may be more important than ever to remain in touch with their provider to monitor possible coronavirus symptoms.

With the click of a few buttons, telehealth can provide a safe option for patients to keep up with routine healthcare — all from the safety of their own homes.

3. Telehealth can help healthcare facilities ration necessary resources.

A suspected COVID-19 case triggers several safety precautions in a hospital, including the use of increasingly-precious personal protective equipment (PPE). Most facilities are now requiring providers to act as if each patient is unknowingly carrying the virus, requiring them to wear PPE when treating every patient.

 

The PPE Shortage During the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak

By early February, 2020, personal protective equipment demand was up to 100 times higher, and prices up to 20 times higher, than normal — weeks before the first COVID-19 death in the US.

 

According to the World Health Organization, roughly 89 million medical masks will be needed each month to support the COVID-19 response.

When patients communicate electronically with their provider, hospitals won’t need to tap into their valuable PPE stock, allowing them to ration and extend their supply.

4. Telehealth can allow healthcare facilities to utilize clinicians under quarantine.

Despite taking stringent precautions to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, healthcare professionals remain on the front lines of this pandemic and run the risk of contracting this highly-contagious illness.

Healthcare workers who test positive or show signs of infection must be quarantined to prevent spreading the virus. Unfortunately, this can keep them from caring for patients.

 

The Risk of Novel Coronavirus Transmission in Hospitals

The first documented case of community transmission of novel coronavirus in the US was in Vacaville, California — which left more than 200 healthcare workers quarantined and unable to care for patients for weeks.

 

Novel coronavirus has already put significant pressure on the healthcare system, and healthcare personnel are being stretched to the brink. Telehealth offers a unique opportunity for hospitals to utilize all of its invaluable providers — with no risk of spreading the virus.

One More Step to Stopping the Spread of Novel Coronavirus

Telehealth has been an untapped resource in the healthcare industry for many years. During the novel coronavirus pandemic, it’s revealing itself to be a critical tool for healthcare facilities around the world.

From virtual appointments to secure messaging, telehealth can help minimize the spread of novel coronavirus and allow providers to continue caring for patients.

Do you have questions about ways to utilize telehealth during the novel coronavirus outbreak? Contact Sodexo.

May 18, 2020

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