CME / ABIM MOC / CE
COVID-19: A Telehealth Opportunity
Complete CME here
The COVID-19 pandemic is proving to be a challenge, with its highly contagious nature, leading to a higher mortality rate than its predecessors (influenza A virus subtype H1N1 [H1N1], severe acute respiratory syndrome [SARS], and Middle East respiratory syndrome [MERS]). Managing it has been even more challenging, with chaos and confusion surrounding testing and availability of test kits and personal protective equipment (PPE), resulting in delayed responses that have contributed to an increase in case burden and mortality.
In a media briefing on March 28 regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that the chronic global shortage of PPE is one of the most urgent threats to our collective ability to save lives. In the majority of countries with reported cases, spread is by local transmission.
This is the first pandemic to occur amidst an era of increased social media and modern day advanced technology. The good news regarding that is that opportunities exist for expedited testing for potential drug treatments as well as using other modes of delivering health care, such as telemedicine. Before the pandemic, a 2019 J.D. Power survey showed only 1 in 10 patients in the United States used telehealth and 75% lacked awareness or access. Usage is likely to go up as patients struggle to keep up with their own unrelated COVID-19 health needs amidst a dwindling availability of healthcare providers (HCPs) who are facing unprecedented challenges in obtaining needed PPE to treat patients infected with COVID-19.
In addition to quarantine, stay-at-home orders, business and school closures, and physical distancing, shifting a portion of the medical practice workload to telemedicine visits could be a significant measure to limit person-to-person transmission and reduce the need for PPE. In the United States, several professional and regulatory organizations have issued new guidance to facilitate this transition.