Telehealth: A Vital Tool to Help Prevent the Spread of Infectious Disease
By David Fetterolf, Stratus Video President
Telehealth continues to prove its value as a vital communications tool in healthcare, particularly with the recent outbreak and concerns surrounding the coronavirus COVID-19 Virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) number one recommendation when it comes to preventing illness is to avoid exposure to the virus. While much is still unknown, the virus is thought to mostly be spread from person to person within close contact through droplets released into the air when an infected individual sneezes or coughs profusely. Tips provided by the CDC to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases include the following:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
How Telehealth Can Help
With telehealth, patients can consult with providers over video from home instead of having to come into a doctor’s office. This helps both patients and providers more easily follow the above-mentioned tips provided by the CDC when it comes to preventing the spread of respiratory diseases. In addition, any telehealth devices can easily be wiped down and disinfected by both patients at home and healthcare personnel – another recommended tactic to reduce risk of exposure.
Seeing the great value that telehealth provides as a means to help reduce the spread of infectious disease, Congress is expected to pass an emergency telehealth waiver that will “waive certain Medicare restrictions for telehealth, including that a Medicare beneficiary can use telehealth services even if they aren’t in a rural community”. The bill also includes a significant spending allowance for vaccine research and development. Given the severity of the issue at hand, the bill is expected to pass through Congress quickly, as early as next week, according to a recent FierceHealthcare report.
Telehealth provides a safe alternative for patients to consult with healthcare providers without physically coming into a healthcare environment. As the need for and utilization of telehealth services continues to rise, it is important for healthcare professionals to consider whether programs are accessible to all patients, including patients who are limited English proficient (LEP), Deaf or Hard of Hearing. In order for these patients to have meaningful access, as required by Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, they require the services of a qualified medical interpreter.
Stratus Link Extends Telehealth to LEP Patients
With Stratus Link, healthcare providers can add a qualified medical interpreter to telehealth calls on demand over HIPAA compliant video. Stratus Link provides interoperability between Stratus Video’s video remote interpretation (VRI) platform and many virtual care solutions, enabling effective communication with LEP patients, caretakers and/or family members via telehealth.
For the latest and most accurate information about the outbreak, respiratory disease symptoms and prevention methods, check the CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) page.