The use of telemedicine has massively increased in the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic. More specifically, compared to the pre-pandemic period, in the U.S., 95% of health centers relied on telehealth during the pandemic, with the highest increase in telemedicine services being in April 2020. Having the possibility to reach your medical provider and get a consultation without having to go to the hospital is clearly a significant advantage during a health crisis. But the fact is, as people have seen the benefits of telemedicine, this method of providing healthcare is here to stay even in a post-pandemic world.
No matter the reason why you need to access your medical provider, whether it is because you have an elder relative in your care who needs regular health check-ups or you find yourself in the impossibility to go to the hospital, using a telehealth service can be convenient. Besides, knowing you can contact your doctor remotely can increase the chances of you seeking medical attention, as many people postpone going to the doctor due to busy lives.
What is telehealth?
Known as telemedicine, this type of service allows you to access care from the comfort of your home. With the help of digital devices, such as a smartphone, laptop, or even through phone messaging, you can contact a medical provider whenever you are not feeling well, or you need to make sure a hospital visit is truly necessary.
This way, you save money and time while also getting the medical attention you need. Besides, telehealth can also be used for mental health treatment, as you can discuss with a psychotherapist if, for instance, you are struggling with anxiety. A noteworthy mention would be that telehealth should not be used to diagnose certain illnesses or disorders. For this, it might be necessary for you to meet face-to-face with the doctor or psychotherapist. However, as more doctors are now prioritizing telemedicine, you can make use of it to have regular check-ups with your medical provider by using video-conferencing tools.
Advantages of telehealth
Patients benefit the most from using telehealth services, as sometimes you don’t have the time or financial means to go to the doctor on a regular basis. No matter the reason, having the possibility to access medical access from home can help you with treatment or diagnosis without needing to travel to the doctor’s office or trying to find the right time for an appointment.
Better access to care
One of the most significant advantages is the fact that telehealth healthcare is more inclusive. Although face-to-face consultations cannot be replaced, especially if you need to diagnose a new patient, being able to offer medical advice remotely can be an excellent advantage for disadvantaged people. For instance, people who live in isolated communities or are located in a rural space where the nearest hospital is too far away, they can make use of telehealth services for specific health issues that could be easily solved without a hospital visit.
In addition, going to the hospital or a clinic can be a challenge for people who have limited mobility. Even though many institutions provide the necessary tools that facilitate the movement of people with disabilities, such as a wheelchair ramp, having the possibility to access medical care without leaving home is an advantage. Similarly, if you have an elderly relative in your care, they have better access to their medical provider. They probably need to have regular check-ups, and traveling could be an exhausting task, so being able to contact their doctor remotely is a benefit.
Convenience is a plus
When you have a busy life, and you have to juggle work and family, you might find yourself postponing going to the doctor quite often. So, if you are able to contact your medical provider by phone or email, you can access the care you need while saving yourself from the hassle of going to the doctor’s office. This is incredibly convenient if it is too complicated to take time off work when your medical provider is available. Not to mention, if you are a stay-at-home parent, finding a babysitter for a limited amount of time can be rather tricky. So, if you can contact your doctor using a video conference tool, you don’t have to worry about arranging childcare.
Besides the advantages mentioned above, telehealth services support better communication between patients and doctors. Talking straight to a specialist without having to discuss with a nurse or receptionist first before you go to your appointment can be more beneficial for you. This way, the doctor hears the symptoms directly from you and can even notice them firsthand if, for instance, you are sick with the flu or you have a skin irritation. Therefore, you will find out your diagnosis, possible treatment, and if the doctor feels it is essential for you to come for a physical examination.
For people who live in rural areas or their communities are relatively isolated, and far away from a city, access to a medical facility could be a challenge. So, as these people might have financial struggles or limited access to transportation, being able to contact a doctor through the phone can help them save money and avoid traveling when there is no need.
Apart from that, using telemedicine services for any health issue you might have can help improve your health in the long term. This way, you decrease the chances of having to spend time in a hospital. A study has revealed that using telehealth services regularly can lower the time spent in a hospital, and therefore, saving money that you would need for hospitalization. Not to mention, with the possibility of accessing medical care remotely, you can heavily reduce travel expenses.
The future of telehealth
It cannot be denied that telemedicine has many advantages. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many patients have noticed the benefits of using telehealth healthcare, and it seems they will be using it after the pandemic as well. Although it is relatively new and there are many opportunities for improvement, some studies have revealed that using telemedicine and monitoring patients’ vitals remotely can reduce the risk of hospitalization for people suffering from heart-related conditions. So, with technology supporting better communication between patients and doctors, this method of providing healthcare is probably here to stay.