Telehealth Is Here To Stay
During the quarantine of the COVID-19 pandemic, the luxury of technology has created a phenomenon that has become a normal part of life, telehealth. It has become imperative for providers to find a way to leverage healthcare services to make it easier for patients to access care. Telehealth has become the answer and the game-changer for the field of medicine.
According to the Health Resources Services, telehealth uses electronic information and telecommunications technologies for clinical health care, health-related education, and health administration. In laymen terms, telehealth is health care services via telephone or video. It offers many of the same services as in-person health care.
- Prescription medication
- Information sharing
Steps of Telehealth Visit
- Step 1: Find hospital/clinic/private doctors office offering telehealth services via online search
- Step 2: Create an online account on the portal or call the toll-free number
- Step 3: Request/schedule visit with primary care physician or with on-demand physician listed
- Step 4: Complete questionnaire about basic health information and reason for visit (pay co-pay or visit fees)
- Step 5: Physician accepts or declines visit (if declined choose another physician)
- Step 6: Connect via video or phone and conduct visit
Benefits of Telehealth
Saves Time – It takes a lot of time out of a day to attend a healthcare appointment. You have to take time off work, and your child has to miss school. Travel time has to be accounted for and the concerns of running into traffic. Then there is the time spent in the waiting room reading magazines. Telehealth gives some of that lost time back to you. You can see your doctor on your computer or mobile device from anywhere; your home, private office, nurses’ office at the child’s school, and even your car.
You can see your doctor at any time; before work, lunch break, after school, and even after getting home in rush hour traffic. The worries of traffic jams and being late to your appointment are eliminated. Telehealth services put time back on your side.
Saves Money – There has been little controversy about whether telehealth saves the patient money since you still have to pay co-pays or the visit fee if insurance does not cover telehealth services. However, money is saved in other areas, such as not losing hours/pay from work, saving money on gas, parking fees, or public transportation, and as stated above, time. You know the old cliché, “Time is money!”
Access to More Doctors – People who live in rural areas have difficulty accessing health care and doctors. Specifically, when Specialists are needed or in an urgent/emergent situation. Telehealth services give the patient access to Specialized doctors that they usually would have to travel long distances for care.
Telehealth offers on-demand care, which is the technology version of Urgent Care clinics. In situations where you can’t see your primary care physician in the immediate future, you can access other physicians for a wide variety of medical concerns. It is the luxury of having a doctor at your beck and call.
Safety – The experience of going to your annual preventive care appointment and the waiting room is full of sick people is all too familiar. No one wants to go to the doctor’s healthy and end up leaving with a sickness; particularly, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Telehealth services allow you to get the care that you need without the risk of exposure to other illnesses.
Privacy – The stigma of being negatively perceived due to a particular illness or disability of some diseases has contributed to people not seeking treatment. The fear of being discriminated against can be stronger than the symptoms the person is experiencing. This can be especially true when it comes to mental health disorders. Telehealth allows you to receive treatment without anyone else knowing.
People can see you walk into a psychiatrist’s office and will make their speculations; however, no one can tell what type of telehealth services you are receiving or that you are receiving health care services. This opens so many doors for people that have never received treatment before.
Here to Stay
The number of patients utilizing telehealth services is steadily rising, for all the reasons above and more. Even though some fears and concerns surround technology security, most patients are comfortable with their health records being maintained on the cloud.
Research has shown that patients are more concerned with access to health care than human interactions with providers. There are so many reasons why telehealth services are becoming the norm and the option that thousands prefer.
The face of health care has changed, and it is continuously improving. Over half of the hospitals in the US offer telehealth services. The parity laws are requiring insurers to include coverage for telehealth services in their health plans. Providers are offering round-the-clock care with improved quality of care. Patients are not the only ones benefiting from telehealth services; the providers are as well. Thus, telehealth services are here to stay.