For a variety of reasons, this day in age, patients may not be willing to go into the doctor’s office. This could be the result of illness, fear, depression, or a host of other challenges. That’s where telehealth comes into play. In December 2019, only 8 percent of the American population used telehealth and, in May 2020, this number increased to 29 percent. Prior to the sudden surge in the popularity of telehealth, it’s praises had been sung due to providers being able to use technology to provide care to patients in remote locations. However, regulations previously limited the use of telehealth to a narrow set of conditions or unique circumstances. That has now changed as well as the future of patient care.
The Future of Medicine
The surge of mandatory lockdowns and social distancing orders due to the Covid-19 pandemic have led to many medical offices closing temporarily. While some practices acquired technology to enable the delivery remote care, others used existing video platforms to provide patient care. With ever increasing adoption rates, many expect patients and providers will want to continue using telehealth options, even as stay-at-home orders are relaxed and lifted. As a result, telehealth is cementing its permanence as an effective and viable care option.
Even prior to the pandemic, many suggested telehealth would be the future of medicine. The method was forced into the present as a result of the pandemic, but adoption and acceptance is increasing organically, leading to a powerful moment in history of healthcare. While medical practices indicated curiosity about telehealth, many have now planned to establish a hybrid operation that consists of in-person and virtual care.
Overcoming Challenges of Telehealth
There are some challenges to implementing telehealth, but these are minimal for the most part. Practitioners can still maintain the patient-doctor relationship but might find it more difficult if they thrive in an in-person environment. Patients with severe mental health issues could find telehealth intimidating or confusing to operate—but training on how to communicate this type of change to patients can minimize this hurdle. Additionally, other barriers to care are lack of internet access and technology and bi-lingual website copy or support. That being said, many practitioners are committed to removing barriers by establishing bilingual chatbots, who can facilitate simple requests and schedule appointments as well as thinking about how they can ensure that the technology needed is available to everyone.
Benefits of Telehealth
Patient Engagement Improvement
Through telehealth care, patients are frequently more engaged and more interactive with health care providers. This is because patients have increasingly recognized their role in following up regarding their health care plans. Using telehealth, the patient and medical provider work together to establish solutions for chronic conditions and cut costs, not only for the patient, but for the medical practice as well. In some cases, working together becomes easier when the patient is in their own comfort zone.
Strengthening the Patient-Doctor Relationship
Contrary to popular belief, the patient-doctor relationship can be improved through the use of telehealth. For example, using telehealth, practitioners get a view into the home of the patient, which can help with understanding how their physical environment might be affecting their mental health. Moreover, with patients in a comfortable setting, they feel more relaxed and are more inclined to be candid in conversation. Additionally, it has been found that treatment is often just as effective as it is when in-person, as facial expressions are key aspects in the appointments, and the use of masks would make this difficult. Thus, telehealth options are very positive in the majority of cases.
Telehealth is not without its challenges, however, there are many documented benefits and tremendous strides have already been made to this end. One of the most important things that any practitioner can do is improve the relationship they have with their patients. By engaging in telehealth options, you’ll have a greater opportunity to make an impact in the lives of your patients through offering more ways in which they can connect with you.
Contact us today to see how we can help you connect with your patients!