March 25, 2021 - 5 min read
What is Telehealth and why it's important in limiting the spread of COVID-19
Though telehealth has long been available to members, COVID-19 brought urgency to the widespread adoption of digital care. With access to care considerably limited for non-urgent care needs throughout the pandemic many turned to telehealth as a safe way to access high-quality care without risking COVID-19 exposure. An uptick in adoption was immediately evident with some health systems reporting a 4,000% increase in the use of telehealth.1
What is telehealth?
Telehealth is a broad term describing methods Health care providers may use to contact their patients, using a variety of interactive platforms, to provide non-hands-on services. At Blue Shield telehealth includes options for access to U.S. board-certified and state-licensed physicians via phone or video for common general medical and mental health needs. It has proven an effective way to treat common non-emergency medical issues including cold and flu symptoms, allergies, and anxiety, to name a few.
The efficacy of telehealth extends beyond general needs and into specialty care including tele physical therapy, virtual kidney disease monitoring & support, and support for drug misuse and eating disorders. For busy employees balancing working from home with caring for family members telehealth is a flexible option available when and where they need it.
Why is telehealth important?
Throughout the pandemic telehealth has become a necessity in providing care while limiting in-person medical appointments. A telehealth visit offers choice, convenience, and flexibility by providing easy-to-use access to care without traveling to a healthcare facility. It’s especially important at a time when access to care is limited.
A poll Blue Shield of California conducted in partnership with Harris Poll found that 41% of Californians feel it’s become harder to get care in the last year. Nearly 50% of respondents reported seeing a healthcare provider virtually since the COVID-19 pandemic started:
The poll shed light on how the pandemic changed health care in the state with additional poll findings highlighted in this blog post.
The importance of telehealth in limiting COVID-19 spread
Telehealth plays a key role in containing community spread of COVID-19 by minimizing member exposure to care providers, patients, and community members. This is especially critical for those at high-risk of complications from the virus, including patients with chronic conditions needing routine access to treatment. Enabling continuity in seeking preventive care during and beyond the pandemic will remain a valuable benefit of telehealth.
Telehealth utilization post-pandemic
Studies indicate telehealth adoption is here to stay. A survey of over 1,800 adults found that 83% state they will likely turn to telemedicine after the COVID-19 pandemic.2 Following a full year of COVID-19 reporting has made members more aware of the individual risk associated with underlying health issues. Telehealth will remain a dependable choice for members wishing to leverage virtual preventive health benefits and manage care remotely.
To learn more about virtual care benefits available to your employees, reach out to your Blue Shield of California Account Executive.
1 Healthcare Finance News
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