Vermont Business Magazine Telemedicine is on the rise in Vermont communities. In a recent statewide survey conducted by OneCare Vermont, healthcare providers overwhelmingly responded that they are providing telemedicine services to patients during the public health emergency.
OneCare Medical Director Dr. Susan Shane presented the findings of the survey at the Vermont Program for Quality in Health Care Telehealth Virtual Office Hours. 92% of respondents said they had utilized audio/video services in the past 60 days, and over 80% responded that they had provided audio-only services to patients.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has really pushed the use of telemedicine services to meet the needs of our patients sheltering at home. Providers and patients have both found these services essential, to be able to participate in visits from the safety of their homes and have their needs met,” said Dr. Shane.
Because health care is a priority and caring for patients is a necessity, telemedicine can help bridge the gap to health care access. In their survey responses, providers shared many benefits to telemedicine that continue beyond the pandemic, and said that telehealth is particularly suited to behavioral health visits, chronic disease management, and medication management.
Mental health conditions may worsen for some during the pandemic, with worries about the virus compounded by social isolation. Telehealth can provide essential help and support to individuals with anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions. A survey respondent stated, “One patient of mine who has been isolated to her apartment has had a profound worsening of her depression and markedly increased suicidality. Because of the efficiency of phone and video visits we have been able to have multiple staff provide multiple, briefer points of care to increase her perception of support and she has volunteered that this has saved her life."
Providers across Vermont emphasized the need for improved broadband and cellular service to enable essential connectivity with their patients and the survey revealed a clear need for increased data literacy.
Although telemedicine technology has been available for decades, the public health emergency created a major shift in the way health care is delivered and has increased the use of telemedicine statewide.
OneCare recently described results of the telehealth survey on their blog: https://www.onecarevt.org/telemedicine-survey/
About OneCare Vermont
OneCare Vermont is a provider-led Accountable Care Organization working to improve the health of Vermonters and lower health care costs. OneCare partners with health insurance companies, hospitals, independent medical practices, and community collaborators to offer programs that pay for positive outcomes and healthcare activities. OneCare gives doctors and other providers access to data, resources, and tools to improve patient health. Health care providers participating in OneCare pool resources and expertise to help Vermonters become healthier and stay healthier, and focus on improving access to primary care, reducing deaths from suicide and drug overdose, and managing chronic illnesses. By sharing information and working together, providers can do even more to deliver the best care to patients.