The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a halt in elective surgeries forcing dermatology and aesthetics practices to temporarily close. In response to patient needs, telemedicine is expanding, as the Office of Civil Rights addresses HIPAA enforcement. Hear from physician leaders in the field of dermatology and aesthetics on how the pandemic is affecting their practices.
AristaMD President and COO, Dereck Tatman, speaks to the role telemedicine solutions play in patient care during a pandemic. Solutions with the capabilities of increasing access to care without the need for patients to travel or visit their provider face-to-face are essential as we work to reduce patient and provider exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
“Telemedicine has a role that can be play during a pandemic and we are seeing that right now. The first thing is that patients can utilize telemedicine either directly with their physician or their physician can use eConsults, which are peer to specialist, to be able to resolve issues that would otherwise result in that patient going to the specialist or the primary care office or even ultimately to the emergency room. We are currently seeing many sites around the U.S. that are increasing utilization of telemedicine to resolve simple issues like coughs and other non-urgent or emergent issues that might have otherwise had those patients going into the primary care office. We personally, in the eConsult space, deal with a peer-to-peer or physician-to-specialist relationship without including the patient in that telemedicine event, and we are seeing an increase in that form of telemedicine also because the primary care physicians are looking to decrease the number of patients that have to go to the physician’s office or to the emergency department.
There are opportunities for dermatology on our contracted specialist panel, in fact a majority of the eConsults that are submitted in a single category on our platform are in the form of a dermatology eConsult. We do expect that there will be patients during this time that will avoid going to the dermatologist for the same reason they avoid going to the primary care office which is to reduce exposure to COVID-19 at these sites. We currently don’t have a need for additional dermatologists on the panel but we do have a number of dermatologists that answer eConsults on a regular basis. There is a slight delay in this as it can take up to 24 hours, on average about 5 hours, to get a response back from the specialist. But in many cases the patient can be maintained right from the primary care office and never have to visit the specialist face-to-face.”