Source: Health Policy Institute of Ohio
With relaxed state and federal rules aimed at enabling distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine use has greatly expanded in Ohio and nationally (Source: “Rebuilding America: Telemedicine Use Prompted by COVID-19 Here to Stay, Doctors and Health Care Officials Say,” Columbus Dispatch, May 28, 2020).
The necessity to isolate led to a sudden relaxation of federal privacy rules that had prohibited some less-secure forms of patient/doctor communication like FaceTime and not allowing doctors to communicate from home, where others might overhear. More importantly, the rules have been relaxed so that Medicaid and private insurers who previously wouldn’t pay for most virtual health-care visits now do so.
Those changes led to an explosion of telemedicine use and doctors and health care experts say there will be no going back. This, they say, is a seminal moment for medicine.
Telehealth appointments could serve a more important role in the coming weeks as more people come into hospitals for elective surgeries. On May 1, 2020, Governor Mike DeWine removed restrictions on elective surgeries in the state. To reduce risk of exposure, patients might be encouraged to do their pre-surgery appointments from home.