In Virtually Perfect? Telemedicine for Covid-19, Judd E. Hollander, M.D. and Brendan G. Carr, M.D. show the benefits of utilizing technology for delivering and receiving care remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic. Specifically, the authors emphasize how the use of telemedicine minimizes exposure to Covid-19 for both patients and healthcare workers.
Hollander and Carr argue why the advantageous methods of telehealth deployed during Covid-19 should continue to be utilized. The authors note that a patient’s top priority is convenient and inexpensive care. The very essence of telemedicine is convenience since patients do not have to leave their homes and healthcare professionals can do it from anywhere as well. Electronic intensive care unit (e-ICU) is a virtual monitoring program that allows nurses and physicians to check in with patients without being excessively exposed to them if they have an infectious disease, which is safer for the doctors (Hollander and Carr). Furthermore, they noted that remote screenings of patients from their home can allow extremely sick patients to bypass the in-person emergency room. This bypass minimizes the exposure for other patients in the waiting room and doctors in the physical emergency room (Hollander and Carr). In addition, the authors showed how telehealth infrastructures were advantageous during the Covid-19 pandemic because quarantined physicians could still conduct their work and see patients in an online setting. On the other hand, it is likely not healthy for a sick and quarantined physician to keep working.
In this article, the authors also showed the barriers to implementing a completely virtual telehealth system for hospitals. One challenge is, “that other health professionals (nurses, medical assistants, physical assistants) also contribute to in-person care, and telemedicine cannot replace them all,” (Hollander and Carr). Furthermore, there are structural barriers that could prevent a smooth implementation of telemedicine systems for a lot of hospitals. It was noted that the support will not come from the federal level, rather the states.
The authors’ points throughout the article were reliable and made sense. The discussion of the barriers in place for completely implementing a telehealth system was beneficial because it showed what has to be overcome to achieve this model. Furthermore, the inclusion of the hospitals that successfully implemented and utilized telehealth systems made the argument of the authors more reliable. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, I had not thought much about telemedicine and/or ever utilized it. Once social distancing measures were put in place, I was more reluctant to go to the doctor and used telehealth a couple of times for random things. Even after social distancing measures were not as strict, I still used telehealth to get a prescription filled just out of mere convenience.
Based on personal experience and this article, it seems like the Covid-19 pandemic definitely accelerated the presence and accessibility of telehealth for many individuals. Does anyone else feel this way? Did anyone use telemedicine during the Covid-19 pandemic? If so, was it your first time using it and would you use it again?