For more than a year, the term Covid-19 has existed as a part of our vocabulary – and, by March of this year, we will reach the anniversary of the virus’s classification as a public health emergency across the United States.
It is impossible not to understate the impact this virus has had on the country and, of course, the world at large. Even now, as we begin to turn toward the light at the end of the tunnel, the anxiety and devastation wrought by this pandemic makes it difficult to quantify quite how much life as we knew it before has changed.
Of course, beyond the level of the individual, we have borne witness to seismic shifts within the health industry. Read about just three of these changes below.
An Unprecedented Shift Toward Telehealth Services
Prior to the declaration that the Covid-19 outbreak represented a nationwide public health emergency, there existed a number of regulatory measures under HIPPAA rules which limited health care providers’ abilities to offer remote diagnostic or treatment-related services to patients.
As the importance of maintaining distance between individuals grew rapidly to the fore, however, HIPPAA amended their stipulations for healthcare providers, and removed the risk of penalty from offering telehealth services via the phone, or video chat services online.
The move obviously offered many advantages to patients, but it has also meant that further work is needed in order to update privacy regulations in the Telehealth Industry, so that they may reflect the current landscape, and ensure that patients are sufficiently safeguarded against invasions to their privacy during these remote consultations.
Increased Demand for Professional Mental Healthcare Services
The impact of Covid-19 on the individual can most certainly be felt even in the absence of infection. Uncertainty, fear, worry and apprehension – not to mention loneliness, isolation, financial strain and, for many across the country, grief – all place significant burdens on our emotional wellbeing, and many have begun to suffer to the point of needing professional help.
As a result, therapists, councillors and psychologists are seeing an increase in demand – particularly for remote sessions, as social distancing continues to disrupt all areas of life.
Unfortunately, the current circumstances are unlike anything any of us have experiences – or even considered in great detail – before. Therapists are leading patients through the same trauma they experience on a daily basis, and gaps in mental health infrastructure are making it tougher for low-income households and recently unemployed individuals to find the help they need.
Access to Healthcare Significantly Hampered
As the country sees redundancies and dissolutions across virtually every sector – and prepares for an economic downturn which risks being unlike anything in living memory – thousands face unemployment as businesses are forced to shrink their workforces, or close altogether.
Of course, immediate loss of income represents the most pressing cause for concern for the overwhelming majority of adults in this position. Yet another consequence of this sudden spike in unemployment is the sudden and ill-timed loss of ESI (employer-sponsored insurance). By some estimates, around twelve million Americans have lost their ESI – a devastating number, particularly at a time when our health, and our ability to gain access to healthcare, face such unprecedented setbacks and risks.