It’s safe to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has required all of us to make adjustments in how we live, interact with one another, and care for ourselves. While we all feel the impact of the coronavirus—through our social lives, our budgets and our work-life balance—people who live with chronic conditions, such as chronic kidney disease (CKD), have had to make unique changes to their daily routines to ensure they stay healthy and continue receiving treatment.
The different stages of chronic kidney disease require different levels of care, and as a health care provider, you can help patients develop a plan of action that is both safe and effective. One way providers of CKD patients have been able to save money and stress during the pandemic is by taking advantage of new telemedicine options.
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine is the ability to diagnose and treat healthcare patients by using telecommunications technology, such as over the phone or by video conference. This includes office visits, consultations, and certain other health services. For a number of CKD patients, telemedicine has quickly become a primary line of communication with their doctors and specialists.
Why should Patients take advantage of telemedicine?
For many, it’s cost-free. Quite a few insurance providers, including Medicare and Medicaid, are offering $0 telemedicine appointments and COVID-19 testing and treatment. If your patients have questions about what telemedicine services are covered under their plan, encourage them to have a lengthy conversation with their insurance company, and document the conversation for record keeping purposes.
Telemedicine provides a safe way to care for your patients. By minimizing contact between patients and professionals, the risk for contracting COVID-19 lowers significantly and as a result, results can improve between patient care and outcomes during these uncertain times.
Telemedicine saves time and increases patient satisfaction. Between travel time, sitting in the waiting room, and the time needed to have a thorough exam, patients can easily invest half of their day into an appointment. Even more, if they need to drop off or pick up any prescriptions. Additionally, most CKD patients are at an advanced age, and require more frequent appointments, leading to a larger share of their time spent going to and coming home from doctor’s offices.
Telehealth allows patients to meet with providers quickly online from the comfort of their homes. While virtual appointment wait times have been longer than usual since the pandemic, there is more flexibility while patients are waiting to be seen. They are able to accomplish other tasks until their appointment begins.
How do doctors use telemedicine to benefit CKD patients?
Monitoring health between appointments: Doctors and nephrologists have been able to use telemedicine to monitor blood pressure that kidney disease patients can measure at home. This healthcare method has been shown to improve control of blood pressure.
Providing information and resources: Telemedicine gives doctors the opportunity to provide patients with important resources and information. As a provider, you can share tips for eating kidney-friendly foods, how you can take your medications correctly, who to contact if you’re having trouble with your home dialysis, etc. Additionally, many patients use telemedicine walkthroughs with either you or your support staff to ensure they are going through their proper home dialysis routine without complications.
Connecting your doctors: Telemedicine allows you to communicate easily with your patient’s nutritionist, primary care provider, or home dialysis nurses more efficiently to develop a consistent plan of action. You can take comfort knowing that your health team is as connected as they can be with the help of telemedicine.
Is telemedicine right for your patients?
While you may be able to utilize virtual visits and telehealth benefits for part of your patient’s CKD treatments, there may be some circumstances that require in-person visits, such as in-center dialysis that must take place in a clinical setting.
However, even if your patients are receiving ongoing clinical treatment, there may still be a way for them to take advantage of your telemedicine benefits in between visits. Talk to your CKD patients about whether telehealth would benefit their overall health and wellness, considering their unique needs. They can also speak to a health insurance agent to understand all coverage options.
Everyone is different, and every person with CKD has unique needs. What’s important to know is that there are new and beneficial ways to make your healthcare routine safe, effective, and non-disruptive to your daily life.
Written by Susan Baker, Freelance writer and owner of insuranceFAQ.net.
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