Telehealth and Telemedicine have been discussed for years and had been growing gradually. However, due to the COVID19 pandemic, their popularity has skyrocketed, and patients and doctors are now really understanding and seeing the real benefits of these technologies to help them get and provide excellent healthcare while improving the convenience of getting this care.

What is Telehealth and Telemedicine

These services provide patient care through HIPPA compliant two-way video and audio systems, either on a computer or on a cell phone. Practically speaking, both these systems are clinically about the same. The difference is that only doctors can do Telehealth, but doctors and other healthcare providers can do Telemedicine. Both can provide you with similar services to improve your healthcare. 

Many studies have demonstrated improvement in patient care using Telehealth technology. Both doctors and patients have found many advantages to these systems

Benefit for Patients

Patients receive many benefits from telehealth services. The convenience of not having to go to the doctor’s office is per se a great advantage. Many people usually go to their doctor’s offices via car, which means they may be stuck in traffic or have a car related problem. Traffic can create a stressful environment to anyone, and this stress can be detrimental to your health, plus it is a waste of your precious time.

By having your doctor visits via telehealth, you no longer have to spend hours going to or coming from you doctors’ office because you do the appointment anywhere, including at home, with minimal disruption of your normal activities. Finding a parking space once you get to the doctor’s office is no longer necessary. For many there is no need to take time off work since these visits can be done on a break or lunch hour. 

The visits may be briefer due to the improved efficiency of the visits. The downside of doing these virtual visits is that the doctor cannot do a physician exam on patients. However, the COVID 19 situation has shown doctors that they do not have to do a physical exam on patients in many instances. Simple discussions about a patient’s health status may be all that is needed for many visits, without doing a physical exam. However, because these services are face to face, the doctor can assess the patient according to how he/she views the patient’s overall appearance.

Patient convenience is remarkably high on the list of advantages for patients. But, in addition, most Telehealth programs have systems to allow the doctors to look up patient history and to review patient labs and other documents and be able to discuss these with patients. 

The doctor may even be able to share his/her screen with the patients and show the patient the lab values and other information that would contribute to the patient’s health and/or a better understanding of his/her medical condition. Patient information sheets and videos can also be shared, improving patient understanding of his/her medical condition.

By making the appointments via the virtual environment, patients no longer must visit a doctor’s office with a waiting room full of patients who may have some type of infectious disease that they could communicate to others. This has been especially important during the COVID 19 pandemic where no one had been wanting to have any unnecessary exposure to the virus.

Benefits to Doctors

More doctors are doing Telehealth services and are happy to do this for various reasons similar to those for patients. Especially important is the decrease in exposure to potentially communicable diseases, such as the COVID 19 virus. So many health practitioners were affected by the virus during the pandemic spread of the virus that this method of doctor-patient visits was able to markedly decrease this potential exposure and spread of the virus.

Doctors receive other advantages by doing Telehealth visits, including better working hours and improved ability to provide better patient care. In addition, their reach of patients can extend out to further boundaries since patients would no longer have to travel long distances to visit with the doctor. No-shows are also decreased as is practice overhead.

Telehealth Is the Future

With all the advantages that Telehealth has to offer, it is no wonder it has been determined to be the wave of the future. More and more doctors and patients are realizing the multiple benefits of Telehealth services and are switching to these services for more convenient and potentially better health care.