Two years ago, Dosher Memorial Hospital was losing one of its three hospitalists. This small-town hospital in Southport, NC, needed to fill the slot quickly, which had never been easy. Yet without that hospitalist, there would be no overnight coverage.
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals received the go-ahead to expand telemedicine/telehealth services via a waiver from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. This was focused on limiting community spread of the virus, as well as reducing the exposure to other patients and staff members to slow viral spread.
Telemedicine was in the spotlight as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services relaxed regulations that had limited application of teleservices throughout the country. Many hospitals quickly engaged telemedicine services to connect providers with patients and families. Now, with the initial surge a few months past, healthcare analysts are assessing the lessons learned.
Telemedicine has rapidly transformed healthcare delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic, but innovative reimbursement models and updated privacy regulations are needed to ensure widespread implementation of high-quality digital care.
As current studies resume and new studies are approved, IRBs and researchers should keep basic safety and regulatory practices in mind, according to experts on the front lines of human research protection and clinical trials.
In October 2019, Bergen New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus, NJ, began using telemedicine to check in with patients who are discharged from the emergency department and ensure appropriate follow-up appointments are in place. As it turns out, the timing of its implementation was fortuitous, because the hospital has been able to quickly expand its telehealth platform to help with patients who might have contracted COVID-19.
Family planning clinics and other reproductive health providers have discovered creative ways to continue to provide contraception services to women during the COVID-19 pandemic. Telehealth is one of the most important methods, although each facility has its own way of using remote services.