The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the spotlight on a tool that has been in use since early days and predominantly used in rural and underserved communities. Although, traditional health service relies on in-person care, the need and want for remote care has existed from the Roman and pre-Hippocratic periods in antiquity. The elderly and infirm who could not visit temples for health care sent representatives to convey information on symptoms and bring home a diagnosis as well as treatment. One of the earliest telehealth encounter can be traced to Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, when he used his early telephone as a means of getting help from his assistant Mr. Watson after he spilt acid on his pants.
The advent of high-speed Internet and the increasing adoption of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in traditional methods of care spurred advances in telehealth delivery. Increased access to portable devices, like laptops and mobile phones, made telehealth more plausible.
What is Telehealth?
The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) defines telehealth as “The mode of delivering health care services and public health via information and communication technologies to facilitate the diagnosis, consultation, treatment, education, care management, and self-management of a patient’s health care while the patient is at the originating site and the health care provider is at a distant site.”
The Federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) defines telehealth as “The use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration.”
Telehealth utilizes telecommunications and virtual technology. In Divine Healthcare Services, Inc. (DHCS), both the patient and our staff are on HIPAA-compliant video conferencing, so individual patients, groups, and the counselors all see each other.
Benefits of Telehealth during COVID-19 Pandemic.
The Department of Health Care Services and other health care regulatory bodies recommend telehealth services amid this COVID-19 tenuous circumstance. The list of benefits includes, but not limited to:
- Social Distancing – it promotes the practice of social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to patients and staff,
- HIPPA Compliance treatment service that provides for security and privacy,
- Convenience – patient can receive and health care practitioners can provide services from anywhere that is secured – home or office,
- It also helps patients overcome barriers such as transportation, mobility issues, scheduling conflict, and finding childcare,
- Reducing the likelihood of patients participating in activities/behaviors that could increase risk of exposure, such as use of public transportation to attend appointments,
- Outreach – health care services are provided to patients where ever they are – taking the treatment to patients,
- Comfort – health care services are provided at the comfort of the patient and practitioner,
- Ensuring that treatment services are not interrupted even when provider or patient is sick,
- Ensuring that flexible services are provided to patients, whether from office or home,
- Drastically reduces no show/cancellation of appointment
We utilize guidelines from CDC and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to implement new procedures to help minimize the risk of exposure to our patients and staff. If you or someone you know is in need of support right now, the DHCS team is here to help.