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Ensuring Access to Care with Telemedicine

by Gerard Malanga MD, HCS Medical Director

The COVID-19 public health emergency quickly required physicians and other health care professionals to treat patients differently given the limitations of in-office patient encounters. The use of telemedicine greatly increased within weeks. Health care professionals in our Horizon Casualty Services (HCS) network were able to quickly adapt, and promptly began seeing patients via telemedicine visits.

For most clinicians, taking care of workers’ compensation patients through telemedicine visits may include postoperative follow-up assessments, psychology-based interventions and ongoing physical therapy. At a recent HCS Clinical Quality Improvement Committee meeting, providers were asked to share their telemedicine experiences.

A psychologist on our committee said that it was beneficial for her patients with anxiety or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to conduct sessions in the comfort of their own homes. A physical therapist commented that while hands-on treatment is optimal, especially after an acute injury or for initial post-operative treatment, tele-physical therapy appears to have been beneficial in preventing complications.

While many health care providers and patients continue to interact virtually, just how many of those providing and seeking care will use telemedicine once this public health emergency is over remains to be seen.

HCS will continue to work with our providers on meeting the needs of claimants. This will include ensuring access to telemedicine options, when necessary.