By Roz Jones
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Telehealth has grown almost sevenfold since COVID-19 began to spread. While virtual doctor visits and remote monitoring devices could make medical care more convenient and accessible for any patient, your clients or Loved Ones may have the most to gain.
In March 2020, Medicare temporarily expanded coverage of telehealth services for most beneficiaries for office visits, preventive health screenings, and mental health services. At least some of these provisions may become permanent thanks to proposed legislation.
Find out how telehealth can help you, as a Caregiver, assist your clients or Loved Ones to maintain their independence and take care of their mental and physical health. Study this quick guide for those who want to see a doctor without leaving home.
Tips for Using Telehealth:
- Master technology. Virtual visits can be as simple as using the phone. Your client or Loved One may need some additional devices and apps. However, if they need help with the necessary technology, and you are unable to assist, ask the local senior center for assistance.
- Book an appointment. Maybe your client or Loved One already has scheduled visits through the patient portal at their doctor’s office or local hospital. If you need instructions, visit their website or call for assistance. Then, your client or Loved One just needs to log into the system a few minutes before their appointment starts.
- Provide information. Their doctor needs their input whether they see them online or face-to-face. Your client or Loved One may have to fill out forms and describe their symptoms. They may also be asked to send a picture of their rash or stick out their tongue on a video call.
- Ask their insurer. Medicare and private insurance have increased coverage for telehealth procedures. Still, it’s wise to double-check their insurance coverage first to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Limitations on Telehealth:
- Maintain continuity. You may have heard the term continuity of care, which refers to your client or Loved One’s relationship with their health provider. Experts recommend that your client or Loved One consider telehealth a supplement rather than a replacement for conventional visits.
- Report unusual symptoms. New and sudden symptoms are another reason to call the doctor. Early diagnosis will help your client or Loved One to receive the correct treatment and increase their chances for recovery.
- Seek urgent care. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room when your client or Loved One needs immediate attention. That would include any signs of a heart attack or stroke.
- Prevent fraud. Telehealth can be safe and effective, but the usual rules for online safety apply. Guard your passwords and use secure internet connections.
Telehealth can help your client or Loved One to continue social distancing while receiving the medical care they need. Ask your client or Loved One’s doctor about which options are appropriate for them.