Healthcare today looks a lot different than it did just a decade ago. But in a way, we’ve come full circle, from doctors making house calls to doctors treating patients in their own homes virtually, without having to set foot in the same room.
During the COVID-19 crisis, telemedicine has gained even more traction as a way for physicians to continue to practice and care for patients remotely. Telemedicine has many benefits. It’s convenient for patients and doctors alike, and it lets both sides practice social distancing without sacrificing treatment. It’s also low cost and easier than ever to implement now that HIPAA and FDA regulations have been relaxed in response to the pandemic. Plus, telemedicine mimics the experience patients are accustomed to in every other aspect of their lives — i.e., access to fast, convenient, and high-quality care directly from their mobile devices.
While you may have heard a lot about telemedicine lately, several other digital and mobile health products are also on the market to further maintain patients’ well-being during the current COVID-19 pandemic and well after it ends. These technologies are easy to use, help you care for patients virtually, and will improve their experience now and in the future.
Pharmacy delivery apps
Pharmacy delivery apps are convenient services that enable patients to get medications without having to leave their homes. Since delivery times may vary depending on inventory, demand, and location, warn patients that same-day delivery is not guaranteed, and they should order their medications before they run out.
- Pillpack (Amazon)
- Walgreens Delivery
- Blink Health
- CVS Delivery
- Walmart Pharmacy Delivery
- Capsule (New York only)
The financial side of healthcare is a burden to most on a good day, and this pandemic has caused many people to struggle due to mass layoffs and furloughs. Several apps as well as pharmacy- or insurance company-run programs can help patients get the care they need without breaking the bank. A little financial assistance can go a long way when you’re trying to make ends meet and regain some sense of security as we emerge on the other side of the pandemic.
Patients can turn to many non-pharmacological programs to address chronic illnesses, like diabetes and musculoskeletal issues. These programs give patients access to actual physicians and coaches, wearables, and information to guide them along the journey to health and well-being. Patients can adhere to these programs in the comfort of their own homes, track their progress, and find additional support if they need it.
- Hinge Health (musculoskeletal pain management)
- Livongo (diabetes, hypertension, weight management, diabetes prevention, and behavioral health)
- Omada Health (diabetes)
- Physera (physical therapy)
- Virta Health (diabetes)
- Weight Watchers (nutrition)
Maintaining a well-balanced diet is hard enough normally. In uncertain, stressful times — like a pandemic — the urge to turn to comfort food can be even greater. As social distancing keeps people from making frequent grocery runs, fresh produce isn’t as readily available. But the rise of meal- and grocery-delivery apps means healthier choices are always at a patient’s fingertips — no excuses. A word of advice for your patients: Expect lag times and some out-of-stock products, as these companies are in high demand.
Digital health tools let physicians practice remotely, but patients need the right devices in order for you to collect data, diagnose, and treat a condition. These include digital thermometers, stethoscopes, echocardiograms, and wireless scales.
- Digital Stethoscope
- Digital Otoscope (CellScope)
- Digital Scale
- One Drop Blood Glucose Monitoring Kit
- Remote Thermometer
- Wireless Blood Pressure Cuff
Online lab testing
The digital age means tests can be conducted in FDA-compliant laboratories in a remote setting, with results delivered online. Based on the type of test performed, you can schedule follow-up virtual appointments to review the results with your patients.
From the front lines of our hospitals to the telemedicine frontier, we are navigating a new era for healthcare and the unprecedented challenges that come with it. One thing is clear: How patients and physicians interact will be forever changed. Giving patients access to digital tools will not only help them stay healthy during these uncertain times, but it will benefit them and their communities in the long term as well.
* Many of these programs are offered through employers; patients should ask their HR department if they have access to these benefits.