As we head into the second half of 2020, many of the temporary flexibilities for telehealth allowed during the COVID-19 pandemic have been made permanent. Since its arrival in the United States earlier this year, COVID-19 has changed the way patients view their health and routines. Retail stores across the country closed, food delivery evolved way past pizza, and people started ordering groceries online. Healthcare had to also react to this shift and invest in the technical infrastructure to support telehealth. From remote appointments and patient portals to the use of mobile apps, telehealth is all around us.

Within healthcare, the use of telehealth, or telemedicine, has proven useful for both patients and providers. About half of all physicians are now using telehealth to treat patients, up from 18% of physicians using telemedicine two years ago. Telehealth organizations are popping up and growing to meet the increasing demand. These organizations are adding physicians to not only cover a growing demand, but also additional specialties and geography. A larger footprint means more credentialing and the complexity of practicing across state lines with varying waivers, registration, and licensure requirements.  Managing these multifaceted and evolving requirements without a dedicated Medical Staff Office can be overwhelming. Verge Health’s provider management software and services are a fantastic fit for these instances, working not only as a Credentialing Verification Office (CVO), but turnkey credentialing, privileging and performance monitoring solution.

Outside of healthcare, organizations are flexing to meet this new normal. Warby Parker, a company built on purchasing eyeglasses and sunglasses online, is using telehealth within its Prescription Check app. The app asks a few simple questions about the last time the user’s eyes were checked and their current prescription, then runs tests via the app before a credentialed doctor takes a look at the results. Within a couple of days, Warby Parker can confirm whether their prescription has changed or stayed the same, and they can order new eyeglasses.

Similarly, fitness and nutrition tracking apps like My Macros+ and the Apple Health app are encouraging the use of technology as a way for people to lead healthier lives. Within these apps, users can scan barcodes to find certain packaged foods as well as access a large database of foods, and even track their steps. Apps like these allow users to find informal health advice and guidance to keep up with their current and future health and fitness-related goals.

Fast innovation in the face of the pandemic is visible across industries. This is especially exciting within healthcare, which is historically slow to change.  It’s vital to maintain this healthy appetite for new technology and solutions. As Gianrico Farrugia, MD, CEO of Mayo Clinic, stated in his recent U.S. News & World Report article, “Moving forward, the health care sector must fully embrace platform and digital technologies along with cross-sector partnerships as our new set point, while actively resisting the urge to ‘get back to normal.’ With that firmly in mind, let’s build on our progress to create a health care experience that is more data-driven, equitable, accessible and supportive for the patients who need us.” With new data, resources, and tools, patients are set to benefit from this accelerated innovation.

 

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