Health Policy Check Up News

Doctors in Disaster: Another use for Telehealth

The recent hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, have left thousands of people without power, homes, and the necessities of life. Hospitals and doctor’s offices have also experienced devastation with many closing their doors. This leaves patients vulnerable and without proper care.

Recently, several companies have offered a new type of patient care service to those affected by the hurricanes in the form of telehealth. Telehealth allows patients to receive long-distance clinical care as well as health education, and consultations from virtually anywhere an internet or phone connection is present.  

The Florida based company MDLive recently offered free telehealth consultations for those affected by the recent storms. Other companies such as DoctorOnDemand, HealthTap, and Teledoc are offering similar services. Telehealth companies aren’t restricted to physical care. Many offer mental health services as well such as American Well, a Boston company, which has offered free telehealth counseling.

The free services from most telehealth companies are on a limited time basis. However, some companies are giving extended free trials specifically for storm victims. LiveHealth will be offering non-emergency telehealth services, including services for mental health, through December 31st. As with most other telehealth services, LiveHealth is available 24/7 at the need and convenience of the patient.

Electricity and internet is still down for many in the storm ridden areas but luckily most telehealth companies offer cell phone apps that can be accessed if the patient has service and data on their phone.

Cuts, bruises, and common ailments as well as prescription refills and mental health care are some of the more general needs patients seek on telehealth services and considering the widespread damage of the recent hurricanes, telehealth may be the quickest and most efficient way for patients to seek care.

Unfortunately, natural disasters will continue to take place. It seems telehealth companies are realizing how important their services can be in times of turmoil. The next step for these companies will likely consist of expanding the awareness of their existence as well as the services they offer to better assist those in need.  

Companies offering discounts and free services are offering further information on their respective websites with details on terms and conditions.

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