As the COVID-19 pandemic grows, people are learning to adapt to a new “normal”. School lessons and work meetings are held online. Even health services are adapting by providing the option for telehealth appointments or telemedicine treatment.
Telemedicine refers to any health service completed through electronic communication. Telehealth providers may use video chat, text messaging, or phone calls to treat and diagnose patients. It is easy to see why this is an excellent option for pandemic times. Patients can still receive essential health care without the risk of spreading disease. And even providers can keep themselves safe by working from home.
It has been long known that telehealth services are beneficial, but up until now, they were never deemed as necessary.
Health care experts have been trying to get more telehealth services established for years. A recent qualitative study specifically looked at social media, which can be classified as a telemedicine method. The participants expressed the appeal of easier access and said that online interactions are less embarrassing than face-to-face ones. The participants of this study expressed electronic communication with providers to be beneficial. So why isn’t it more widely used?
Some insurance won’t cover telehealth services. Why? Who knows. Some lawmakers are pushing for more insurances to cover telemedicine, but they have met pushback in the current climate.
Second, not all clinics are set up for telehealth services. They require special equipment, cameras, computers, and phones, and the right technicians to set up and maintain. And not all clinics can afford that yet.
Still, some clinics are working around these obstacles by offering simple telephone visits from providers. This is especially helpful in therapy offices but more challenging to work around in cases where clients might need medical testing done.
Some are already predicting that telehealth services will continue even after the pandemic cools. Clinics, insurances, and patients are using telemedicine out of necessity will grow to see the usefulness of it and may not want to go back to traditional face-to-face visits. This pandemic is effecting current everyday life in many ways, and may have long-lasting effects that will be evident in the future.