|During this challenging time when the country’s health care system is focused on providing care to COVID-19 patients, it is critically important that offsite or virtual alternatives are available for patients in need. This includes genetic services, which can impact a life-saving decision about surgery and treatment selection for a cancer patient, or provide an elusive diagnosis for patients with rare genetic conditions.
Genome Medical is a telehealth-based medical practice. Our genetic experts engage with patients in all 50 states through video and phone appointments. This ensures patient safety, and it allows us to maintain service continuity and rapid appointment availability during this pandemic. Genome Medical stands ready to provide virtual services to patients, providers and health care systems during this heightened time of need. Contact us to learn more.
As the coronavirus outbreak spreads, the benefits of telehealth are becoming suddenly, urgently clear. Health care systems around the country are racing to incorporate and scale up telehealth services in response to the pandemic, with the federal government expanding Medicare coverage for these services as well. The current situation is underscoring what many telehealth providers and health experts have long believed—that telehealth technologies can speed and expand access to health care, increase efficiency, lower costs and, for both patients and providers, reduce exposure to illness.
What is Telehealth?
The term refers to using technology—think face-to-face video, email, texting, shared imaging, apps and more—to “support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration,” according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. (Telemedicine refers to the clinical care aspect of telehealth.)
Advantages of Telehealth
How might telehealth benefit you during this time of coronavirus? Say you have a fever and cough. With telehealth, you could schedule a virtual appointment with your doctor via phone or video to review your symptoms and assess your overall risk level. You don’t have to leave your house and risk exposing others to whatever illness you may have. You’re likely keeping yourself safer by avoiding contact with others who may be ill. And you lower any risk to your doctor and other health care workers you would encounter in an office or emergency room visit—an important concern as the health care system copes with an onslaught of patients.
While the coronavirus can’t be diagnosed remotely, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending that health systems use telehealth services to triage and assess ill patients during this outbreak.
The Rise in Telehealth Services
While telehealth has been around in some form since the 1990s, it has become increasingly common in recent years. Individuals are accustomed to using technology to handle many details of their everyday lives, and technologies like videoconferencing have become nearly routine. In 2019, a Mercer survey of employers found that nearly 90 percent offered some form of telemedicine as part of their employee health benefits. The same survey found that more than 40 percent of large companies offer their employees teletherapy (using telehealth technology to provide behavioral health care).  Telemedicine seems likely to become a standard part of health care in the years ahead.
Training Health Workers, Soothing Fears
During the coronavirus crisis, telehealth offers other advantages for keeping the health care system up and running. For instance, online medical conferences can substitute for in-person gatherings. Health care trainees whose institutions have sent them home can keep up with their studies via online courses. What’s more, telehealth can also deliver real-time mental health care by connecting individuals with a telehealth counselor for help in coping with anxiety or depression.
Genome Medical Virtual Genetic Counseling Services
At this time, as always, Genome Medical stands ready to provide virtual genetic services that can help patients, providers and health care systems in need of assistance. Genetic services can be important for life-saving decisions that may be required even during the pandemic, such as testing to inform surgical decisions, chemotherapy selection for cancer patients and determining a diagnosis for patients with rare genetic conditions.
If individuals are not comfortable going to a hospital for an in-person genetic services visit, our experts can deliver genetic counseling services and other care remotely. This is critically important during this time of social distancing to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission. When additional staffing is needed, Genome Medical’s clinical team members can step in to handle overflow patients. In addition, our medical genetic experts and genetic counselors are available to consult remotely with medical providers, health systems and hospitals that may require specialized genetic expertise not available locally.
If you are interested in speaking with a Genetic Counselor virtually: