The COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges and opportunities for patients and providers across the country. Healthcare providers are forced to innovate at a rapid pace.
In this blog, we’ll go over how government assistance and the adoption of telemedicine allows patients to get accessible urgent care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How can the government assist telemedicine and telehealth during the COVID-19 period?
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, efforts are being made by the Federal Government to help health care workers provide relevant health services to their patients. $200 million was generated by the COVID-19 Telehealth program to fund telehealth technologies in America. This was part of the COVID-19 Aid, Relief and Economic and Security (CARES) Act 2020.
New federal telemedicine programs are likely to help expand COVID-19 care throughout the country in 2021, as supports are given to eligible health care providers responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Telemedicine support is driven by fully funded telecommunications services, information services, and providing necessary devices for accessing critical care services.
On March 17, 2021, the acting chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, circulated a report and order on reconsideration, which would establish, on adoption, Round 2 of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, a $249.95 million-dollar federal relief that builds on the $200 million-dollar program which was earlier established as part of the CARES ACT in 2020.
On the issues of how this funding would be equitably shared across all states, this second round of Telemedicine funding and expansion state that:
- A system of rating applications considers the hardest-hit areas, low-income areas, and healthcare provider shortage areas.
- A nationwide distribution of funds, where each of the states, territory, and districts will receive funding.
- The award funding in two phases to satisfy the statutory requirement that applicants be granted a chance to provide additional information.
- “A deadline on applications to allow for a thorough and comprehensive review of all applications in one round, as opposed to the rolling approval system used in Round 1 of the program.”
The federal initiative towards supporting health care providers is commendable since telemedicine and telehealth are very effective tools for patients to have convenient access to health services regardless of how far the distance is between them and a health provider. Invariably, what this means for a distant patient or patient in rural areas is that there may be no need to be near a health care provider before you can get the help you need.
Health care providers are awaiting the next round of reliefs. One of which is the Connected Care Pilot Program, a $100 million funding from the universal service fund (USF), to support the production of health care services. This program is projected to cover 85% of eligible costs of information services, broadband connectivity, and network equipment which are necessary to provide connected care services to the targeted patient population.
Is telemedicine still useful for patients even with the COVID vaccine on the way?
Patients who want to get health care and minimize risks will have better broadband options and connectivity due to federal expansion, but healthcare organizations as a whole are likely to have multiple virtual care options for patients. Video visits, virtual visits, and telemedicine and telehealth platforms offer a safe way to see the doctor.
If you need to contact a healthcare provider, you can schedule telemedicine today at your local urgent care center such as AFC Urgent Care Fairfield.
COVID-19 has impacted negatively on our health services. Hospitals are being overwhelmed with contagious patients; patients are also struggling to connect with health service providers remotely. This is where Telehealth technologies have helped ease the burden of both patients and care providers.
Telehealth and telemedicine are seen as a long-lasting solution to the inequality in access to health services. AFC Urgent Care Fairfield