Does Telehealth Work?
Are we getting close to the days when we no longer need to make a trip to see our healthcare providers? Are we done waiting around for hours in waiting rooms surrounded by sick patients until it is our turn?
Telehealth is another tool in the arsenal of health that allows you to check in on your doctor or have access to their service without having to physically see them. Telehealth consists of several different types of software including health portals, e-visits, and live video visits. Telehealth can cut down on healthcare costs and bring doctors from distant areas closer to their patients.
With the rise of telehealth in the last decade, though, healthcare is rapidly changing. It’s no longer necessary to drive to the doctor’s office for every single health concern. Studies have shown that in 2022, about 38 percent of doctor visits are telehealth visits. That number will continue to grow with the increased availability and accessibility of services rendered through different vendors.
As a physician, Dr. Nooristani has mixed feelings about telehealth and believes we are still far from being completely remote as technology has not reached the level where everything could be done remotely.
Let’s delve in to learn more about when is a good time to use telehealth and what you need in order to connect with your healthcare providers.
- A smartphone or any other connective device that has audio and video capabilities (some services may just need audio).
- If you are insured, make sure the televisit is covered by your insurance.
- You have seen your physician at least once in person.
When Will You Benefit the Most from Telehealth?
Here are a few instances when you can use telehealth to improve your health care:
- You are on vacation
- The doctor’s office is closed
- You are unsure whether to visit urgent care or wait to see your regular doctor for simple questions. (Ex: Do I need an antibiotic for upper respiratory infection?).
- Can’t leave work or home due to responsibilities
- Need simple refills
- Need to hear lab results
- Mental health needs
- Want to save money on healthcare
- Any health concern that you might have that is not urgent
Telehealth Vs. In-Person
Be sure not to substitute telehealth for a real visit even though you may have fallen into your comfort zone. We cannot ignore the importance of in-person visits, even though telehealth is a great addition to care. Delay in care could mean life and death in some cases. Let’s take a simple example of chest pain. An hour of delay could cost you significant health damage if you had a heart attack or stroke. What if you had a mini-stroke?
Time is of the essence, and you need to get to the hospital as soon as possible to give yourself an opportunity to try life-saving measures. Clot busters, for example, must be administered within a certain time frame or they will not work effectively. Sometimes a simple blood pressure check could mean the difference in your overall health outcome including preventing strokes and heart attacks.
Overall, technology has its place in healthcare. If you are using telehealth for convenience and have established a relationship with your healthcare provider, then you are doing the right thing for yourself. In rural areas, healthcare providers may not be available, especially sub-specialists for a multitude of diseases, so the use of telehealth is paramount. It is essential that you, as a patient, understand the risks and benefits of telehealth. The next time you see your healthcare provider, ask about available options including your medical doctor rather than extended care providers if you have complicated medical issues.