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Need for Telemedicine During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Written by: Dr. Nisha Cooch
Published on: Mar 19, 2020

Need for Telemedicine

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up the healthcare community, exposing weaknesses and revealing opportunities. The spread of this coronavirus has led to a surge in healthcare job postings that highlight current – and potentially future – needs in the healthcare system. Understanding the potentially evolving job landscape in healthcare can help all of those working in this field gain some perspective on their options and the trajectory of their careers. The growing need for telemedicine during this crisis is one area to which people working in healthcare should pay special attention.

Given that the virus appears to be highly contagious, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are encouraging healthcare institutions to expand their telehealth services so that they can care for patients virtually while helping to minimize exposure between individuals.

This urgent change in healthcare practice may produce results that help to justify a long-term shift in uptake of telemedicine and therefore affect the nature of certain healthcare jobs even after the coronavirus threat has been adequately addressed. If, for instance, institutions adopt telemedicine approaches that will allow them to continue to see patients during this pandemic and find that these strategies provide benefits to their practice, they are likely to continue to incorporate telemedicine into their care.

Doctor talking to patient via telemedicine

We know that in the short-term, healthcare institutions are certainly looking for people who can practice medicine in a remote capacity, meaning that they are both trained in medicine and technologically savvy enough to successfully care for patients virtually. Companies that provide telemedicine platforms are likely also ramping up their services and thus looking for more employees to help them fill unprecedented levels of demand for telemedicine technology and software. These roles may emphasize the intersection of medicine and technology or be based more in the business or regulatory side of medicine.

Though the remote communication of medical information has been practiced for years, with supporters of the approach suggesting that telemedicine offers a way to overcome access and efficiency challenges in healthcare, it has not taken hold the way that some analysts had predicted. The spread of coronavirus, however, puts us in a position where telemedicine may offer more value - to both patients and providers – than ever before. Even in China, where the virus originated, telehealth platforms have been put into place to triage and treat Chinese patients across the country.

It is important in any industry that professionals have their eyes open to what is going on around them and to be ready to adapt to change. We are in the midst of what may well be an inflection point in healthcare, where telemedicine takes off as both a common and standard approach to care. Employees and potential employees in the healthcare industry should therefore think about how their talents, experience, and goals may fit into this new scheme and how they may add value in a healthcare system that regularly implements telemedicine strategies.

Takeaway: The coronavirus pandemic is likely to cause an expansion in telemedicine that may last long after the relevant surge in healthcare needs has passed. Indeed, once the infrastructure is in place to facilitate telemedicine services, the use of these services is likely to continue. People working in healthcare should therefore consider how they could best contribute to a healthcare system in which telemedicine is more heavily emphasized.

For front-line clinical tools and resources to help you deliver excellent care and information to your patients, please visit the Elsevier COVID-19 Pandemic Hub.