Telehealth for Truckers Makes Sense During Coronavirus Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has led many people to embrace telemedicine services. While telehealth for truckers was already a trend, it’s now more popular than ever. After the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services authorized greater access for beneficiaries, weekly telemedicine calls jumped from roughly 13,000 users a week to 1.7 million beneficiaries accessing care through electronic communications in a single week.
Telehealth for Truckers
Even before the coronavirus public health emergency, truckers faced barriers to health care. The nature of their jobs often places them far from home if they fall ill. Their irregular work hours can inhibit their ability to visit medical offices during normal business hours. Truckers also tend to be self-employed. Independent trucking contractors who buy their own health insurance plans likely have high deductibles. As a result, they typically have high out-of-pocket health care costs that discourage them from visiting medical providers except for the most acute problems.
Barriers such as these too often prompt truckers to delay medical care. Even before the coronavirus forced everyone to think about their health, medical professionals and entrepreneurs recognized the potential of telehealth services to alleviate truckers’ health issues.
In the pursuit of solutions, medical service companies have been busy developing mobile applications that bring telemedicine into the cabs of truck drivers. Products like the My20 GoMedRx subscription connect truckers and their dependents with low-cost telemedicine services. For a relatively low annual fee, owner-operators can speak with telehealth physicians through the My20 mobile application run by Konexial.
This service allows users to speak with a physician and obtain or renew prescriptions. Physicians can send prescriptions to pharmacies along a trucker’s route so that patients can pick them up while still hauling cargo down the road.
A telehealth product called GenieMD also serves the market for truckers in need of health consultations while on the road. The mobile application TruckPark partners with GenieMD to provide fee-per-use physician consultations for truckers.
These telehealth mobile applications solve many of the problems experienced by truckers who need health care while working on the road. Additionally, truckers employed by transport companies increasingly have access to telemedicine through their employer-sponsored health plans.
How Poor Trucker Health Intersects With Coronavirus
Driving a truck, especially on long hauls, forces operators to sit for long periods of time. Their sedentary work duties often take a toll on their health. About 2 million people work as long-haul truck drivers in the United States. Compared to the average population, these workers are much more likely to develop obesity and diabetes. Medical researchers have identified a strong link between those two specific medical conditions and the threat of enduring serious cases of COVID-19, the potentially deadly disease caused by coronavirus infection.
For truck drivers with preexisting conditions, the coronavirus pandemic has heightened health concerns. Telemedicine offers a convenient way to stay current with medical appointments and ensure the timely renewal of important prescription drugs.
When truckers stay on top of their health concerns, they may avoid the worst complications of COVID-19 should they suffer an exposure to the virus. Additionally, their overall health might improve. This could help people in this occupation feel more alert throughout their workdays. Better health may insulate them from the effects of fatigue. As any trucking accident lawyer will tell you, sleepiness behind the wheel can contribute to truck accidents.
As the pandemic persists, truckers also must contend with an increased risk of exposure to coronavirus. As essential workers, they cannot work from home. Everyone in the country still relies on the transport of goods. Almost everything that people need in their daily lives ultimately depends on truckers staying on the road every day. This fact has highlighted their essential duties, and the importance of their work has come into focus in the public eye like never before.
Truckers face other COVID risks aside from preexisting conditions. At multiple points throughout the workday, truckers could be exposed at:
- Fueling stations
- Loading docks
- Delivery locations
- Inspection stations
Because they travel throughout large regions that could be dealing with outbreaks, truckers should be looking for ways to minimize contact with people. Telemedicine makes it possible for these essential workers to discuss health issues that might come up without risking contact with other people.
For any driver who develops coronavirus symptoms while they are working, telemedicine could be invaluable. Instead of taking a large amount of time out of their work schedules to visit a clinic, a trucker could schedule a convenient call with a physician to discuss worrisome symptoms.
Coronavirus symptoms commonly include:
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breath
Anyone experiencing these symptoms should speak with a physician as soon as possible. A remote physician may be able to direct a trucker to a coronavirus testing facility while far away from home. If a patient does appear to have the virus, then they will know to stay isolated as much as possible, even if symptoms are mild.
Truckers Traveling With Companions
Not all truckers are alone in their cabs. Truckers might work together so that they can share duties or travel with family members. At times, a spouse or other family member with health problems might be with a trucker because some medical conditions make staying home alone worrisome or impossible. Truckers with access to telemedicine may connect their dependents with physician consultations from any location. With convenient access to medical advice and medication, truckers and their dependents can avoid interruptions in medications or resolve issues before they erupt into full-blown emergencies.
Truck accidents can result in emergencies that send drivers, their companions, or people in other passenger vehicles to the hospital. However, not all truck accidents result in immediate medical services. This does not mean that a medical assessment is unnecessary. You should not skip medical attention after a collision with a big rig or other commercial truck. A telemedicine consultation could help you quickly evaluate the severity of your situation. For example, what seems to be a minor bump on the head could actually be a concussion. A brief conversation with a medical professional could help you recognize your symptoms and direct you to the nearest health clinic for help should you need it.
Legal Advice After a Trucking Accident
The growing use of telemedicine among truckers may help them stay healthier and cope with possible coronavirus exposures. However, this alone will not prevent all truck crashes. Unfortunately, a driver who is battling an illness is more likely to cause an accident. If you’ve been hurt in a truck crash, you could be dealing with many legal questions on top of medical concerns. Determining the at-fault driver might be an open question, but a trucking accident lawyer could investigate the crash and organize evidence needed to support your insurance claim.
It’s also important to gain an understanding of your legal rights before speaking with anyone from a trucking or an insurance company. A lawyer could even handle those communications on your behalf. If you are seeking compensation for truck accident injuries, then contact RAM Law by calling (732) 394-1549. We have offices in New Brunswick, NJ, and Somerville, NJ.