Advancing Telehealth Adoption in Facing the Threats of the Coronavirus Age

Telehealth or telemedicine services and equipment, are among the advanced technologies now on track as new normals, in what is now touted as the Coronavirus Age. The frequency by which novel coronaviruses evolve and spread as contagious diseases have raised speculations that COVID-19 and similar viruses will perennially occur, even if vaccines and treatment are already in place.

In the meantime, as the world waits until biolabs and pharmaceutical companies achieve success in their respective medical mission, the availability of telehealth services is seen as another effective approach in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Telemedicine has been introduced years ago as solutions with which elderly and persons with disabilities can seek remote primary care and medical attention. While initially introducing wearable devices that can monitor the vital signs of a patient, telehealth services have since advanced with the development of other technologies. Outpatients can hook up with health care providers, hospitals and medical professionals, via teleconferencing platforms and use of digital medical equipment in remotely assessing symptoms.

However, remote medical consultations have not become mainstream because many prefer the conventional in-person clinical visits. Although sought only if it’s the only recourse to getting medical care and attention, many still prefer experiencing the assurance of human touch. In -person consultations allow a physician to tap on and listen to the vital organs in their patient’s chest, or feel a lump, or even just take their pulse.

Yet we now live in an environment where a stronger type of coronavirus can be transmitted by people and in places by a mere touch. Although it’s not the solution to the treatment of infected persons, telemedicine and its related technologies can help minimise the risks of exposing other patients, especially the vulnerable ones, to threats posed by the coronavirus.

The CARES Act Includes Support for the Widespread Adoption of Telehealth Care

Inasmuch as the cost of traditional health care is already hard to afford for many, the adoption of telehealth or telemedicine cannot be relied upon as a primary preventive response in combatting the spread of the contagion.

That is why the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes a $200 million funding for use of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) in establishing and supporting a COVID-18 Telehealth Program. The initiatives of which should basically aim to give support to providers of telehealth care in both rural and non-rural areas. In line with the program, the FCC is set to introduce a subset of telehealth systems called “connected care services (CCS).”

Using strong broadband Internet connection and advanced technologies, the main objective of FCC’s connected care services is to deliver affordable remote medical care to patients outside of hospital and clinical facilities. The CCS providers will diagnose the symptoms of patients, while the data generated including images, will then be forwarded to a remotely located physician. The physician will in turn interpret the data as basis for making medical recommendations and issuing medical prescriptions.

Still, since medical practice is a highly regulated profession, all related facilities and technologies must also operate in accordance with the country’s health care laws.