While telehealth has been around a while now, it joins a group of other internet-based modernisms like online shopping, video conferencing, and Skype interviewing that some were hesitant to adopt. When a new online innovation makes its appearance, there are often many who are leery of its capabilities. Is it safe? Is it reliable?
There are many regulations and rules regarding telehealth to ensure a safe and secure environment. Most insurance companies now cover telehealth and your telemedicine appointments and have required criteria to be followed.
For example, your originating appointment with your provider can be required to be an office visit before you can participate in a tele-medical appointment. In my opinion, this is beneficial to both parties. As a patient, you may want to know more about your doctor’s patient care and that in-person visit will allow you to feel comfortable with your doctor. Being able to sit down and have a conversation about your medical history can have an impact on your treatment going forward.
When I initially encountered telehealth, I did not think it could be efficient or reliable. What if I’m sick and my doctor needs to take my temperature, or listen to my heart? How will my doctor know I’m really not well and what he prescribed will make me feel better? The more I researched, the more I realized the care received could rely more on internet connection quality and security. Also the clarity of webcam or digital camera can be very important to ensure the provider is able to diagnose with accuracy. I knew that my tablet and cell phone were up to date so I wouldn’t have an issue. If I wanted to go a step further, equipment-wise, I learned that there are special thermometers used that can read your temperature which are synced to your device and digital stethoscopes that can listen to your lungs or heart.
Because this equipment is not cheap, some clinics or urgent care facilities have kiosks that are equipped with these devices and your diagnostics are handled by the on-call online doctor. Results are uploaded to the portal or to your EHR for your doctor to assist with his assessment of your appointment. Knowing this information assuaged my concerns.
Chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease are able to be managed efficiently with telehealth. Frequently missed appointments can be avoided. This was really important to me because it meant that my dad no longer had a reason why he could not get to his doctor’s appointments. Now that he’s retired and spends most of his time away visiting family, telehealth works in his favor. He, too, was skeptical but as he was sharing the experience with me, I could tell he was amazed with the technology and the follow up care he received.
Telehealth is improving every day and people are definitely talking about it. More providers are joining the network of telehealth. Telehealth Index: 2017 Consumer Survey found that 1 in 5 consumers would switch to a doctor that offers telehealth. What were your concerns before your first telehealth experience? Please share.