HIV Specialist - March 2021 - 16

ON THE LINE
Telehealth Services are a
Vital Tool for Ending
the HIV Epidemic
By Landon Myers, JD

S

USTAINED ENGAGEMENT IN HIV PREVENTION

and care is crucial for maintaining the health of
people with HIV (PWH) and reducing new HIV
transmissions. It is no secret, however, that many
people struggle to stay in care and many providers are frustrated
by no-shows, gaps in care, and all of the barriers that arise in
helping to keep PWH engaged in care. The COVID-19 pandemic
did not make this feat any easier. While telehealth has been
around for a while, and HIV providers have used it to varying
degrees, the COVID-19 crisis was an unforeseen catalyst that
spurred telehealth adoption. What began as an emergency
response has opened up a world of possibility for improving
patient outcomes, reducing provider stress, and has the potential
to become an integral aspect of HIV care delivery well after the
current COVID-19 pandemic is behind us.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, some healthcare providers
were utilizing methods of telehealth to provide services to patients.1
Oftentimes though, the extent of these services were simply telephone calls and patient portal chat boxes. Beginning in March of
2020, healthcare delivery of HIV prevention and related services
shifted dramatically due to the partial closure of many clinical settings and community-based organizations. Even where operations
resumed, capacity was significantly reduced and new barriers arose,
such as fewer options for drop-in visits. The state of affairs forced
healthcare providers to adjust their systems of triage, evaluation, and
patient care to utilize more technology-oriented methods rather than
in-person ones.2 Although initially seen as a temporary stopgap to
reduce staff exposure to patients with COVID-19, preserve personal
protective equipment (PPE), and minimize the impact of patient
surges on facilities, telehealth technologies have the potential to
become an integrated component of sustainable, high-quality care
delivery for HIV services.

16

MARCH 2021

HIVSPECIALIST

WWW.AAHIVM.ORG

What is Telehealth?
What is Telemedicine?
Why do They Matter?

Telehealth services use electronic information and telecommunication technologies to
support long-distance healthcare along with
other health education, public health, and
health administration.3
Asynchronous telehealth services involve
utilizing technology where the patient and the
provider are not accessing information at the
same time and can be used to collect messages,
images, and/or data at one point in time and be
interpreted or responded to later, oftentimes
through a patient portal.4 These services can
be useful for activities like scheduling appointments or delivering laboratory results.
Telemedicine is a form of synchronous
services. It consists of two-way, real-time
interactive communications facilitating
clinical care through telephones, text messages, or live audio-video interactions via a
smartphone, tablet, or computer for both the
healthcare worker and patient.5
Telehealth services are not one thing or one
service but involve an evolving combination of
services. Many practices start with asynchronous services, and as staff capacity and
financial resources evolve, they expand into
a broader mix of services, including, in many
instances since the onset of the COVID-19
pandemic-full telemedicine services.

SHUTTERSTOCK/ SOPHON K


http://WWW.AAHIVM.ORG

HIV Specialist - March 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of HIV Specialist - March 2021

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HIV Specialist - March 2021 - Cover2
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HIV Specialist - March 2021 - Cover3
HIV Specialist - March 2021 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/AAHIVM/hiv-specialist-march-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/AAHIVM/G121337_AAHIV_122020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/AAHIVM/G119632_AAHIV_092020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/AAHIVM/G118334_AAHIV_062020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/AAHIVM/G116663_AAHIVM_032020
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com