Now more than ever, technology is impacting lives in unprecedented ways. From being able to work remotely from home to attending virtual weddings, technology is helping us connect to others in a world of social distancing. One such aspect that has played an integral role in the health industry is telehealth services. Just between mid-March through mid-June, over 9 million beneficiaries received telehealth services. This has allowed patients to receive the medical help they need from the safety of their homes.
During the pandemic, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services expanded the use of telehealth services to include long-term care facilities such as nursing homes. The question that has been raised after this expansion is whether rehabilitation therapists should be allowed to provide care through telehealth or not. The argument is whether virtual care visits are sufficient for the patients. Cynthia Morton, executive vice president of the National Association for the Support of Long-Term Care (NASL) was quoted saying “You’re not treating a patient through the visit. You’re not able to do an evaluation of the patient.” Although, e-visits would potentially help limit exposure to the virus for both the clinician and patient, leaders in the industry don’t know whether the calls will be effective. Another challenge is the availability of funds for nursing homes to allow such methods of caregiving. Such efforts require not only the acquisition of technology, but also the ability to maintain it. Timing has also been a challenging factor as to whether such practices can be safely and effectively implemented. As COVID-19 has impacted us, we have faced challenges never conceived before. As industry leaders search for solutions, we at Cornerstone Rehab are continuously searching for innovative ways to help our clinicians and partner facilities succeed.