You get up early and drive to your doctor’s office, only to wait for what feels like hours in a small room. You watch others come and go, some sick, some not, and anxiously wait for your name to be called. When it is, your doctor sees you for minutes, writes you a prescription and sends you on your way with a clean bill of health. You’re already drained by the experience, but you head into work — an hour late.
Does this sound familiar? If yes, then telehealth might be a good alternative for you.
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth, also known as telemedicine, is a powerful tool that provides you with convenient access to your physician from anywhere. Depending on your provider, you receive similar care to being in their actual location. That means telehealth is a virtual doctor’s appointment. It’s done from your phone or computer and you can be anywhere — home, work, or on vacation!
It’s not a new service, but it has gained a tremendous amount of popularity this past year. Your doctor may offer it and you don’t even know!
What type of care you receive depends on your provider. For example, Direct2Recovery offers telehealth options for those recovering from substance abuse. Their telehealth plan involves full service diagnosing, drug testing (salvia kits), counseling, prescriptions, and 24-hour access to providers.
With the help of telehealth, you can continue to follow up with the specialist you are comfortable with without missing your appointments, and losing your progress over the time.
To summarize, telehealth is a health management resource that gives you access to your local health providers, no matter where you are.
How Does Telehealth Work?
All telehealth services work very similarly. They’re built to give you virtual access to doctors, specialists, medical resources, and more.
Telehealth can be conducted a few ways.
Asynchronous (stored information)
Asynchronous telehealth includes sharing images, data and messages with your doctor in a virtual space. They are typically sent and stored until your doctor is available to look over them.
The doctor tends to communicate directly with the patient in real time through video conferencing. This is in real time, so there is minimal waiting to get a response from your provider.
Remote patient monitoring
Remote patient monitoring is really cool. It lets you take certain tests, such as blood pressure, weight, drug screenings, etc., from home, and then your doctor will get the results. It’s basically you going through the preliminary screenings from the comfort of your home.
Is Telehealth Beneficial?
Yes! There are countless benefits of telehealth systems. The biggest one is that telehealth has become required during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, 76 percent of the hospitals in the U.S connects patients and doctors through telehealth.
This isn’t surprising because telehealth protects your health. You’re limiting yourself to exposure to others while still getting the care you need. In addition, telehealth gives you faster access to specialists that may provide higher standards of care and precise evaluation of various illnesses and other health conditions.
It also saves time and money, which is always a plus!
Additionally, telemedicine allows for more privacy. It reduces your risk of being embarrassed or running into someone you know at your doctor’s office. You don’t have to worry about others worrying about you — everything is done in private and is completely confidential.
Telehealth is built to fit all lifestyles. It can benefit you in all of the following ways:
- Access local providers from your home
- Lower costs on average (compared to visits)
- Improved delivery of quality of care
- Supplements and enhances traditional face-to-face medicine
- Improves patient agency, engagement, and satisfaction
- Improves provider satisfaction
Is Telehealth Right for You?
Telehealth can be right for everyone, but some are more comfortable speaking face to face with their doctors. That’s fine! But for little things, like prescription refills or diagnoses, pull out your phone or computer and try telehealth instead. If it is done right, it is as effective as in-person health care.
Telehealth service is especially right for you when you are on a vacation and unable to visit your regular doctor.
At the end of the day though, do what is right for you and what is comfortable. Your health should be your top priority and if you feel like telehealth isn’t right for you, then it’s not right for you!