The new post-pandemic reality is a hybrid virtual/in-person approach for many neurological and psychiatric conditions – driving rapid regulatory change, reduced delivery costs, and improved patient access.
Pre-COVID-19, the scheduling of an online visit for the treatment of a neurological or psychiatric disorder such as multiple sclerosis or depression was not common practice.
There were multiple disincentives for U.S. physicians to embrace telehealth. First was the lack of ‘approved’ technology and the need to train staff and patients to use it. Second was the confusing labyrinth of Medicare and insurance reimbursement policies, federal agency regulations, and state-speciﬁc Medicaid rules.
But in March 2020, the entire U.S. healthcare system – from hospitals to physicians to ﬁrst responders – was upended by the rapid and mass spread of COVID-19. During the pandemic, virtual consultations would prove to be the indispensable bridge to access healthcare, prompting a relaxation of the regulatory and reimbursement stipulations that had previously restricted its adoption.
The pandemic has presented all healthcare stakeholders with a wake-up call about the new solutions that digital transformation can offer in ensuring that the industry meets its existing and future challenges.
And while today we know that telehealth is here to stay, there are still some elements of our new world which will take more time to become clear.