If people feel comfortable seeing a doctor in person again, there may be a decline in telemedicine visits
While the COVID-19 pandemic dictated so much of 2020, there is now a light at the end of the tunnel. With three emergency vaccines now approved, more Americans are ready to get back to normal as soon as possible whenever it is deemed safe to do so.
Are some things that were so important in COVID still being used in a post-pandemic world? One consideration is our confidence in telehealth.
In the last week of March 2020 Telemedicine visits increased 154%. These visits have remained stable throughout the pandemic to keep patients and doctors safe. Telehealth has many other benefits too, making it a viable option for patients who simply feel more comfortable in their home than in a doctor’s office.
But if people feel good when they visit their doctor in person, will the visits to telemedicine decrease? Or is it sustainable enough to be an integral part of our society?
Why telehealth could have a long lifespan
Telehealth has become popular not only because of the security it offers in uncertain times. There are many different benefits and advantages to consider that will give the service the strength to stick with it. Some of the greatest benefits of telehealth lock in:
- Easy access to care
- Reliable care
- Cheaper visits
- Accessibility for everyone
- More personalized, compassionate care
Telehealth is particularly effective for seniors or those with mobility issues who may have trouble leaving their homes. You can talk to a doctor without having to travel and risk harming yourself or causing pain.
Professionals in various health care sectors are using telemedicine to improve their patient care. For example, mental health professionals have also made remote visits to their patients. Feeling comfortable and “safe” in their own home can help these patients open up and show more vulnerability, which can be helpful in their treatment.
Telemedicine has too many benefits to be ignored, including remote monitoring of patients between appointments and access to your doctor whenever you need it.
The possible downsides
While there are many advantages to telemedicine, it is also important to consider the potential “disadvantages”. The disadvantages of a process often determine its longevity.
One of the most notable risks in the telehealth industry is security: cybersecurity issues have impacted tech companies, retailers, and private companies for years. The healthcare industry is certainly not immune to them, but security issues can cause information about your data to be lost:
- Personal identity
- Other payment information
- Medical history
- Family history
The protection of stored data is the responsibility of the patient and the provider. Healthcare providers should ensure that they are using secure portals and that they are instructing staff on how to proceed Manage software and hardware securelyTreat patient information and destroy any information that does not need to be saved.
In addition to the cybersecurity risks, some are concerned about the reliability of telehealth. Even though it is supposed to provide accessibility, there are those who may not have a strong enough internet connection, while others may just not trust meeting a doctor via video chat or phone call.
The good news about these potential drawbacks is that they all have room for improvement, so the general look and feel of telehealth will evolve with technology.
What does the future of telehealth look like?
Nobody knows how people will react to regaining more freedom. However, we can make some predictions about the future of telehealth.
First, the health system in general continues to grow. Now that we’ve relied on telemedicine for so long, it’s unlikely to go completely in the background. So, if your interests are in medicine and technology, you can consider a career in health informatics. The ones who work with Healthcare technology are the ones who determine how successful it is in the future. By making it easier and safer for patients, they are more likely to continue using technology to connect with health professionals.
One reason Telehealth may see a decline is the lack of participation from doctors and even the involvement of Congress. There are still so many unknowns when it comes to reimbursement plans for people who may be on Medicaid or Medicare, unless it is more money practices.
Both doctors and patients may strive to get back to “normal” when things open up. This could lead to an initial drop in telehealth numbers. But it is also appreciated that younger people want this type of service. They want to be able to connect with their doctors online wherever they are. From now on that will be appreciated 25-30% of patients in primary care can be adequately cared for through telemedicine alone. Unless this number continues to rise, people are likely to return for face-to-face visits more often.
However, it’s also unlikely that face-to-face visits will be as popular as they used to be. Telehealth has caused a shift that cannot be ignored, and while our confidence in it is diminishing, it is something that will remain and regain popularity as the next generation ages.
(Image source: unsplash.com)