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Most adults unsure of how to use telemedicine

In this time of social distancing and hyper-awareness of symptoms of COVID-19, health officials around the country are asking those who think they might have the virus to call their doctor or use telemedicine to request testing, rather than go for an in-person visit and risk spreading the infection. However, patients face a real barrier to using telemedicine: they don’t know how to access the service.

Mower’s Healthcare Specialty conducted a survey of American parents and other adults and found that nearly two-thirds have never used the service because they were unsure of how to access it. At a time when compliance with medical guidance is more necessary than ever before, clear communication and simple directions are of the utmost importance.

Medical professionals, health systems, insurance companies and government agencies should include clear directions that outline how to access telemedicine services for COVID-19 testing or treatment. Consider simple video tutorials and step-by-step instructions to remove confusion.

For medical providers, it’s critical that patients understand if they’ll be interfacing with doctors (or PAs or LPNs) in your practice, or if telemed services are provided through a third party. Whenever possible, let your patients know of any service fees up front, and if there are any government entities that may be covering those fees.

For health insurers, Mower’s research also indicated potential telemed users were unsure if their coverage included telemedicine, and at what cost. When making your customers aware of the service, include relevant information about copays or if your plan is making the service free of charge if the visit is related to COVID-19 treatment.

Unprecedented times call for clear communications that provide easy-to-follow steps and help people understand what they should do. Crises and extreme circumstances pass over time, and information offers vital knowledge that lives on into the future.