A woman using a throat scope on her child. Patients can use the TelScope throat scope to show telemedicine doctors what their tonsils (or their loved ones’ tonsils look like.

Some clients are sheltering at home more than others, but the COVID-19 crisis has drawn everyone’s attention to the idea of increasing use of telehealth products and services.

Most insurers have either expanded telehealth coverage or send out announcements to promote the fact that they already offer extensive telehealth benefits.

(Related: Why Post-COVID-19 Operations at a Small Life Insurer Look OK: Idea File)

Here’s a look at some of the ideas conveyed that go beyond sending the message, “We’ll pay the doctor for talking to you over the computer.”

Maybe you could use them to attract attention to any telehealth plans you sell, or to show clients how they could use the funds in a health savings account, flexible spending account or health reimbursement arrangement to pay for health-related items of ther choosing.

1. Let the doctors in.

Many companies are out promoting hardware that can help patients overcome the problem that most phone-based and laptop-based videoconferencing systems give doctors a lousy view of the patient.

HearX Group is offering health care providers a hearX Self Test Kit.

Providers can send the kits to patients. Patients can use the kits to test their own ability to hear pure tones, to test their own ability to understand speech, and to take clear, well-lit pictures of their own eardrums, and then send the test results and images to an ear doctor, audiologist or other telemedicine provider.

When necessary, the providers can then send the patients hearing aids and adjust the hearing aids remotely, HearX says.

Holland Healthcare Inc., for example, is promoting its TelScope “throat scope.”

Purchasers can use the cell phone attachment to transmit clear, well-lit photos of a loved one’s throat through the internet, to a telemedicine provider.

BabyScripts, a company that offers remote pregnancy monitoring tools, has released a new mobile app that health care providers can use to provide prenatal and postnatal care through the internet. Providers can use the app, together with related hardware, to track patients’ weight and blood pressure.

The app also provides a modern, digital version of a baby care guide, in both English and Spanish.

An organization that provides the app has the option of putting its own logo on it.

2. Keep the hackers out.

Federal regulators have responded to the COVID-19 crisis by easing the usual health information privacy and data regulations that have applied to telehealth programs in the past.

Telehealth system providers are suggesting that the regular rules could return.

Adviise Inc., a company that offers a subscription-based medical service platform that complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy and data security rules, is one of the companies talking about that possibility.

It recently announced that it has added encrypted, HIPAA-compliant telemedicine software to its service package.

3. Enough with the checks.

VPay, a company that can help insurers make payments through virtual credit cards and the electronic funds transfer process, has an idea that may have strong appeal for consumers in areas where many of the bank branches are closed: Many consumers hate getting paper checks and would strongly prefer to get reimbursed for claims through electronic systems.

The company commissioned a survey of consumers who had filed insurance claims within the past three years. The survey was conducted in January and February, and the sample included 502 people.

About 60% of the participants said they had received their last claim payments via paper checks, and 53% of the participants “said they would be willing to switch insurers to gain access to instant claim payment,” according to VPay.

About 68% of the millennials in the sample, and more than 90% of the Generation Z participants, said they would switch insurance providers to get access to a digital claim payment process, according to VPay.

 

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