The pandemic precipitated major changes in every area of life and perhaps none more so than in the field of online medical care. Medical services needed to remain available and accessible but provided in a way that would protect both patients and staff from infection.
The mass shift to online services was fundamental to care remaining both deliverable and safe – and many of the changes that Covid saw introduced are likely to continue for the foreseeable future due to the benefits that they’re continuing to deliver for the public and medical professionals alike.
Online Doctors’ Appointments
The switch to online appointments was one of the biggest changes brought about by the pandemic. Although initially used to limit the risk of exposure to the virus, online medical services have continued to grow exponentially and are extremely popular with both patients and staff. Existing clinics have largely continued to offer their patients the option of having online consultations with a doctor or nurse, while new companies have set up with the exclusive aim of providing online-only appointments and even offering prescription writing facilities.
Have a look at these PlushCare reviews to get an idea of how a telemedicine service works in practice. Many such companies can work in tandem with existing health insurance (although it’s important to check this carefully before signing up) and offer a range of specialist clinics to provide advice on allergies, contraception, sexual health, depression, and anxiety, for example.
It’s not just the convenience that makes it inevitable that online doctors’ services will remain one of the standard ways in which we access healthcare; they are also invaluable for those who would otherwise struggle to get to a consultation in person, such as those with mobility issues, or whose mental health difficulties could make an in-person visit problematic.
Cloud VoIP Technology
With the pandemic requiring patient consultations to move to online or telephone appointments, new tech needed to be utilized to optimize this new way of working and to help avoid any interruption to services.
VoIP (Voice-over-Internet Protocol) converts voice signals into digital data that can be exchanged via an internet connection. This allows for flexible and secure remote working, meaning that, during the pandemic, members of a medical team were able to work from home to provide telephone consultations using a VoIP system.
It quickly became apparent that a cloud-based VoIP was the perfect partner to support the Covid-induced move to online medical care. This is largely due to the extra security that a VoIP offers, in addition to the fact that most VoIP can be integrated with email inboxes, helpdesk software, chat tools, and quality assurance features, thereby offering many innovative opportunities to make the patient’s journey more accessible and streamlined.
It wasn’t just routine consultations and advice that were widely offered online due to the pandemic – and, largely, continue to be – but a significant number of outpatient appointments were conducted via video or telephone call, too.
As well as protecting patients and staff from being exposed to Covid, switching outpatient care over to online provision saved time and resources, both of which were vital during the height of the pandemic as hospital beds were filling and staffing was stretched to breaking point or beyond.
While the pandemic has begun to recede, many outpatients are inherently vulnerable, and so continuing to offer remote outpatient care, where possible, is still widely seen as preferable.
Prescription Writing Services
As we touched on above, the pandemic also meant that many patients were required to order their repeat prescriptions online or to have a video consultation with a doctor to receive medication for the first time.
Online doctors’ services are a quick and easy way to get the medication that’s needed – many people are now choosing to stay under the care of their regular doctor but also subscribe to an online medical service to fill a prescription on the weekend, out of hours, or at any time when they’re unable to access a ‘normal’ appointment with their healthcare provider.
How Online Doctor’s Services Are Regarded
And finally, one of the biggest shifts that the pandemic generated in terms of online health care has been our own perception of it.
Prior to Covid, online appointments were not regarded as standard, and many people viewed them with a slight level of distrust: seeing a doctor in person was widely viewed as being the only reliable way to obtain appropriate advice, diagnosis, and care.
However, with the pandemic meaning that the vast majority of people had no choice but to accept online or telephone appointments if they wished to consult with a medical professional, a general change of stance soon became apparent. Even as clinics and doctors’ surgeries re-open for in-person appointments, many are choosing to continue to access healthcare, where possible, in an online setting.
Online medical care has now become so in demand that a vast number of new companies have sprung up in the wake of the pandemic, offering a wide range of services for patients who want the flexibility and convenience of online consultations.
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