Subsequent to the pandemic, a relatively new concept in the world of healthcare delivery was employed. I am speaking about telemedicine. Telemedicine refers to the use of all possible communication modalities, most commonly the Internet, and specific portals so that a face-to-face virtual encounter is completed. Thus, the question becomes what is the relative utility of telemedicine?

First and foremost, increased and more access to all appropriate care can be achieved. While not 100%, nearly every home has a computer, access to the internet, cell phone coverage, and additional access to websites via the cell phone. Enabling nearly everyone, particularly those in rural areas to be “seen” and evaluated for any host of problems. If that clinical situation is not amenable to a telemedicine assessment, then that patient can be forwarded or directed to the best possible solution for the clinical problem being addressed. Additionally, the timesaving and costs associated with travel, clinic waiting room time, childcare, and a variety of tangential issues can be ameliorated with this type of intervention.

There is a relative safety measure in the use of telemedicine, as the examinee is not exposed to any significant extraneous clinical issues. While noting that most Worker’s Compensation injured individuals have orthopedic problems, simply being in the clinic setting, medical office building, and similar situations, could possibly expose those individuals to airborne pathogens further complicating the overall clinical situation.

One aspect that is not frequently discussed would be consultant resource management. That is to say, the provider, while sitting at their computer can open a separate screen, access specific data, and with the burgeoning use of AI. The best possible and most recent literature sustained treatment for specific clinical situations can be noted within seconds. Moreover, the clinical records from other clinics, emergency rooms, radiograph centers, and the like are easily accessible so that the decision-maker has all possible data to enhance the treatment of this individual. This leads to increased efficiency, efficacy, and utility in the delivery of appropriate healthcare.

Secondary to the need to be seen as quickly as possible, and because of the pandemic, a number of specialist care practices can see a larger number of individuals more quickly, thoroughly, and appropriate triage can be completed addressing that specialized problem. Telemedicine is now employed in nearly every clinical specialty.

Not to be discounted is that the use of telemedicine is a particularly cost-effective method to deliver a variety of healthcare services. Utilizing all the tools available may result in a reduced need for expensive, in-person, and specialty consultations. This cost savings can be extended to hospital stays and other costs as noted above.

So, as you can see, there is a significant utility in the utilization of telemedicine providing healthcare to Worker’s Compensation injured individuals to the benefit of the entire ecosystem.