The healthcare system is facing an epic and unprecedented disaster with the COVID-19 outbreak, which threatens to overwhelm our ability to provide critical life-saving care as the number of confirmed cases continues to rise. In the urology space, there has been a sudden shift to emergency care only, as elective surgeries have been halted to preserve the healthcare system’s resources. The emergence of telemedicine and telehealth platforms now offer vital resources to healthcare professionals in helping them manage these challenges in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The primary threat government and public health officials must immediately confront is the potential overcrowding of hospital emergency rooms, urgent care facilities, and clinics. Adopting urologic telehealth solutions now will help mitigate overloading the system by allowing healthcare professionals to assess low-risk individuals with disease exposure concerns and provide remote guidance lessening the need for in-person visits.
With the high risk of transmission of the coronavirus, many patients are refraining from making routine chronic health care visits. However, for the more than 100 million Americans with chronic health conditions, this is not an option. For this population, telemedicine is an essential resource to address their ongoing needs while reducing in-person clinic visits. Management of chronic urologic care conditions can be offered via telemedicine to optimize the care of these patients with chronic conditions, address the reduction of human exposures (among healthcare workers and patients), and ensure that finite medical services on the front lines are reserved for patients who need them most.
With a growing array of cloud-based telehealth platforms, physicians can continue treating patients with adhering to social distancing guidelines. For medical practices and systems that have not yet embraced telemedicine, this is a critical moment to adopt telehealth solutions and begin providing a functional service that could eventually grow the practice. As more people use live video chat platforms like Zoom, Facetime and Skype, patients will be more receptive to telemedicine.
Given that telemedicine is poised to address several unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak, the CDC, state public health agencies and numerous industry associations have all indicated that telehealth solutions need to be considered a part of healthcare provider coronavirus response systems. For healthcare providers who have not yet adopted telemedicine capabilities, now is the time to consider partnering with third-party healthcare technology service providers who can help implement telehealth solutions today and ensure patients continue to receive quality care as we all adapt to the changing healthcare landscape ahead of us.
Contribute By Dr. Anup A. Vora