A recently released telemedicine report is good news to people still concerned about contracting COVID-19. According to the data, remote COVID-19 diagnoses were down measurably during the late summer (2022) months. Only the Northeast region didn’t see a decline. Caseloads there remained fairly steady while they fell in the South, West, and Midwest.
The report in question does not account for COVID-19 cases diagnosed via in-person visits. Chances are that the numbers would be similar. As time goes on, fewer cases are being diagnosed across the board. As for telemedicine, it has served its purpose well over the last two years. Let’s hope that patients and doctors alike keep using it.
Remote Visits Do Their Job
The fact that COVID-19 can be diagnosed through a virtual visit is proof that remote visits actually do the job they are intended to do. As San Antonio’s CSI Health (https://csihealth.net/) explains, the primary purpose for utilizing telemedicine is to take the place of in-person appointments when such appointments normally consist of little more than a face-to-face conversation. Such is the case when patients see their doctors over COVID-19 concerns.
Even when doctors insist on getting diagnostic data from patients, telemedicine isn’t out of the question. CSI Health is just one of several telemedicine solution providers whose kiosks and mobile units include diagnostic tools. Commonly included tools are things like infrared thermometer, glucometer, blood pressure cuff, and digital stethoscope. Even more advanced diagnostic tools, like pulse oximeter and sonogram, can be built in to remote healthcare kiosks.
Telemedicine Doing Well for Mental Health
Telemedicine has proved valuable in the fight against COVID-19. But there is another bright spot in the recently released report. That bright spot is mental health. Data shows that 66% of the surveyed professionals offered mental health diagnoses via telemedicine during the same period.
Believe it or not, mental health continues to enjoy the widest adoption of telemedicine technologies to date. That shouldn’t be surprising given the fact that mental health visits are almost always conversation based. It is not often that mental health experts need to have patients in the office to run certain kinds of tests or accomplish goals that cannot be accomplished remotely.
For patients, telemedicine is more convenient. So much so that mental health patients appear more likely to keep their appointments when they can do so remotely. Bringing up a mobile app or logging on to the computer is a lot easier than commuting to the doctor’s office.
Telemedicine Remains Steady Overall
One last bit of good news from the report is that telemedicine has remained steady overall in 2022. This is especially positive after the industry witnessed declines in the latter half of 2020 and into 2021. Approximately 5.4% of all medical visits have occurred remotely in 2022. That’s nowhere near the peak of 16% observed during the early stages of the pandemic, but the fact that rates have remained steady throughout 2022 is still welcome news.
Whether telemedicine ever eclipses 10% is a matter of speculation. If adoption does get that high, there would be no reason to believe telemedicine couldn’t eventually become the norm. The hard part is reaching the 10% threshold.
As things currently stand, clinicians are still wary of telemedicine for all but the most necessary cases. Some are still convinced that telemedicine is incapable of providing the same level of care. Others just have a negative view of digital technologies because they have had such bad experiences with electronic health records. Either way, there are barriers to overcome before telemedicine can experience significant growth.
Remote COVID-19 diagnoses are down. Meanwhile, telemedicine continues to serve the mental health community well. Both are good news for doctors, patients, and the telemedicine industry.