severity reaching out to doctors or heading to the hospital. The 2017-2018 flu season marked one of the worst in decades, with the 2019-2020 placing overloading demands on doctors, as well. The 2020-2021 flu season, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, has seen an exponential rise in flu-like symptoms, with doctors trying to control the contagions, protect the vulnerable population, and deal with an overwhelming workload all at the same time. So how can healthcare workers help ease the flu’s impact on the healthcare system, as well as best care for their patients?
Is Virtual Care the Answer to the Problem?
Providers who are able to offer virtual care are often better prepared for this challenging time of the year. Not only are they able to be more time-efficient by implementing telemedicine visits; but by not having patients in their facilities, they help limit the spread to other patients—especially vulnerable groups such as the elderly, newborn babies, pregnant women, and those with weak immune systems — as well as to the healthcare providers themselves. Patients also benefit by being able to seek care from the comfort of their homes.
Telemedicine’s benefits are numerous. As mentioned, patients are able to seek care from their home, which not only is easier on the patient, but also help stop the spread of germs to others.
And, since most Americans have at least one broadband access point, such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer, they can be face-to-face with a doctor within minutes.
For providers, those using the technology’s automation support have an even higher efficiency rate when treating these high-demand but low-acuity-type conditions. This leaves them extra time to focus on patients who have chronic conditions, or other types of urgent scenarios.
Many insurance providers are beginning to recognize the potential telehealth offers, and are including its coverage into their insurance plans and coverage. This makes it a more affordable and an easy way to access health care.
Working From Home
It is often recommended that patients who are sick or showing early signs of the flu should stay home in order to prevent the spread of the viruses, especially to those who are vulnerable. When physicians are stay home, they can’t treat patients, limiting available care. With telemedicine, as long as the physician feels up to it, they can still see patients—without spreading their germs. The beauty of virtual care is that it can be done from almost anywhere, through almost any form of smart technology (phone, tablet etc.). And, while working from home, physicians can have more time to rest, recover, and resume their regular work schedule sooner.
Telemedicine offers many ways to help combat flu season—for both patients and healthcare professionals.