Top 9 Reasons to Try Telehealth
Almost 6 months into the pandemic, many thousands of our patients have tried telemedicine. We are grateful they have. While not appropriate for everyone or every condition, when patients agree to meet remotely, they discover some surprising and valuable benefits. Here are the top 9 reasons to try telemedicine when your provider feels it would be appropriate for you.
Telemedicine is convenient. You can have your appointment in any private space: at home, at work, or while traveling.
It saves on travel and travel time. For many, getting from their home to a medical appointment takes 35 minutes and gallon of gas. You can save both the time and money you would have spent getting there and back by using telemedicine instead.
It saves even more time. While we try to keep your waiting-room time to a minimum, you could still accomplish quite a lot at home in the 5 minutes you might spend in the waiting room. You could fold one more load of laundry or pay a few bills while you were waiting for your appointment to start.
One study estimated that a telemedicine visit, including wait time, takes just 13 percent of the time as the same in-person appointment, including travel and wait time.
It’s so easy. Whether you have a device with Internet and video capabilities (like a computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone ) or a simple landline phone, you can benefit from the ease of telemedicine. The office staff will walk you through the steps when you make your appointment. There is no software to download, and it takes just a few clicks to connect.
It’s accessible. Virtual urgent care, especially, is available around the clock 7 days a week, either with an appointment or on demand.
It’s private. Encrypted connections make telemedicine secure. And there’s no risk of feeling pressured to answer uncomfortable questions from an acquaintance you happen to meet in the waiting room or parking lot.
Telemedicine enhances traditional face-to-face medicine. Improved access means that providers and patients see each other more often, through a combination of remote and in-person visits. More regular communication improves provider-patient relationships. It increases patients’ engagement and satisfaction. And provider satisfaction increases, as well.
The outcomes are great. Partly because of the ease of access and increased communication, telemedicine outcomes impress both doctors and patients. Those who connect via telemedicine have fewer hospital admissions, spend fewer days in the hospital, and have fewer hospital re-admissions. According to reports, they are more engaged in their healthcare, which helps them follow recommendations and get better faster.
Many professional medical societies—including the American Medical Association, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, and the CDC—endorse telehealth services.
It decreases healthcare spending. When patients get the care they need promptly and regularly, they don’t need as much expensive and disruptive care, like hospital stays and emergency visits. That brings healthcare costs down for both the individual and the system as a whole.
For all of these reasons, I encourage you to give telemedicine a try. You may find even greater satisfaction through a mix of in-person and telemedicine visits than you had experienced with in-person visits alone.
Trey Dobson, MD, is an emergency physician and chief medical officer at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington, VT.