Over the last 30 years, technology has evolved in ways that we never thought possible. It has made it easier to stay in contact with family and friends, it has given us endless forms of entertainment, and now it is here to improve our health.
Although you would be surprised to know that telehealth has been around for quite some time, since the 1960’s actually, which involved NASA working with Nebraska Psychology Institute.
What is telehealth?
Telehealth is simply the use of communications technology such as computers and mobile devices to provide you with healthcare services from the comfort of your home or wherever you may be. Yet, it’s also much more than that. Telehealth can be:
- Remote patient monitoring lets your provider check on you while you are at home. For example, you might wear a device that measures your heart rate and sends that information to your provider.
- A surgeon using robotic technology to do surgery from a different location
- Sensors that can alert caregivers if a person with dementia leaves the house
- Sending your provider a message through your electronic health record (EHR)
- Watching an online video that your provider sent you about how to use an inhaler
- Getting an email, phone, or text reminder that it’s time for a cancer screening
What are the goals for telehealth?
One of the most important goals for telehealth providers is to make healthcare more accessible to those living in rural and isolated communities. Telehealth also aims to make healthcare services more convenient for people with limited mobility or transportation options.
One of the main ideas behind introducing telehealth is improving the communication and coordination between you and your healthcare team. This means that when you are working with your primary care doctor and a specialist, for instance, they will be able to coordinate more diligently with one another, so you don’t have to keep going back and forth for visits.
Benefits of telehealth?
- Getting care at home, especially for people with mobility issues or living in rural areas
- Getting care from specialists who are not close or difficult to reach
- Getting care after traditional office hours
- More thorough and direct communication with your providers
- Better communication and coordination between health care providers
- More support for people who are managing more chronic health conditions
- Lower cost, since virtual visits may be cheaper than in-person visits
Who is using telehealth?
Pandemic aside, everyone is beginning to make use of telehealth. Over the last 10 years, hospitals and other facilities have rapidly increased their telehealth services implantation.
Although telehealth services can be used for practically any field within medicine, studies have shown that there are substantial variations between specialties. 50 percent of all telehealth services are psychiatry services, followed by substance use treatment at 30 percent.
What types of care can I get from telehealth services?
- General health care, like wellness visits
- Prescriptions for medicine
- Eye exams
- Nutrition counseling
- Mental health counseling
The next chapter
Telehealth is not going away anytime soon; in fact, some regulatory changes were made during the height of the pandemic enabling greater telehealth access have been made permanent. Although, other restrictions made pertaining to telehealth services may return to pre-covid-19 standards when the public health emergency expires.
The future is bright for telehealth services; innovations seem to be made every year, and consumer perception is at an all-time high.
The potential for telehealth is endless. In the next decade, we could see on-demand virtual agent care, tech-enabled home medication administration, and virtual home health services.
Learn more today
As it gets colder outside and new variants of covid-19 keep us inside, make sure to ask your doctor or healthcare provider about the telehealth services they have to offer.