Healthcare News & Insights

Coronavirus: Latest on telehealth, technology & treatments

Sishir Reddy, co-CEO of the Los Angeles-based healthcare tech services company Episource, saw an industry pivot toward telehealth coming even before the coronavirus forced it to the forefront of patient care. 

Giving an example of patients in rural areas that may have challenges getting transportation to appointments, he said in a phone interview: “With the advancements in technology, with remote monitoring and the ability to track vital health stats on a patient remotely tied to this audio-visual communication method, you’re going to see telehealth being more adopted broadly.

“If you can triage the non-emergent (COVID-19) cases to move on a telehealth model, where providers and hospital systems are more focused on more acute severe chronic conditions, you’re going to see more adoption of telehealth going forward.”

Records access

Reddy added that the public health emergency showed how increased electronic medical records (EMR) systems connectivity and interoperability could become critical for physicians to deliver timely care.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services “has been proposing, under the 21st Century Cures Act, EMR interoperability guidelines and regulations. That can come from a physician EMR system (or) a hospital EMR system,” he said.

“So, as these regulations are finalized, it becomes imperative that payors and providers get access to that information in a seamless manner.”

According to Reddy, it means EMR vendors may have to do their part by opening up their systems and creating more standardization around medical records exchange to close gaps in care.

“Even though there are standardizations, you see these large EMR companies like Epic or Allscripts or NextGen. They have their own interpretation of those standards, and they tend to close off their systems. But I think in a post-COVID world, you’re going to see that information exchange is going to become all that more vital, and it’s going to force EMR companies to participate in that future in a more helpful manner,” he said.

It might be time to reach out to your EMR vendor to brainstorm solutions for improving your connectivity and interoperability with other systems, along with possible future upgrades.

Experimental treatment drug

The post-COVID-19 world could be a step closer. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced an initial distribution of the donated experimental COVID-19 treatment remdesivir, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration May 1 for emergency use.

Remdesivir’s manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, has committed to supplying about 607,000 vials of the drug over the next six weeks. So far, 1,244 cases have been distributed, or are designated to be allocated, according to HHS.

Providers and hospitals interested in administering the donated doses should contact their local health department.

Candidates for the drug “must be patients on ventilators, or on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation or who require supplemental oxygen due to room-air blood oxygen levels at or below 94%,” an HHS press release said.

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