Telehealth Impressions from a First-time User: A Cusper Discovers Telemedicine


Telehealth is
our new best friend. Delivering health care services via technology and virtual
modes is ideal in face of the Coronavirus pandemic because it allows medical
professionals to provide care while practicing social distancing, and allows
patients to receive care while avoiding crowded physicians’ office waiting
rooms and clinics.

But does telehealth
truly live up to all the hype? And is it really just as effective as in-person
care?

According to
Fundamentals of Telemedicine and Telehealth, 2020,
telehealth is defined
as, “the use of information and communication technology for persons and
communities who have difficulty in accessing their healthcare provider.” While
telehealth has recently become an important way to provide health care in the
midst of the Coronavirus pandemic in the US, it has actually been a part of the
public health sphere for decades.

Telehealth
began as a substitute for in-person appointments that might otherwise have been
cancelled (or never made) because of distance, cost, or lack of transportation,
but it has become more mainstream and expanded into live video
consults/appointments, mobile health apps, remote monitoring of patients, and
more (Gogia, 2020, Center for Connected Health Policy).

This past
Friday, I had my first telehealth appointment with my provider. Being a
“cusper” (one who is both a Millennial and Gen Z), I grew up using technology
and the Internet, and watched as both expand into the field of health care. As
a result, adopting telehealth into my personal life was natural and logical.

Why wouldn’t I
use my phone or laptop to talk to my doctor when I use those two things to do
practically everything else?

Nevertheless, as
I signed on to a virtual portal to access the virtual meeting site, I became
slightly nervous. But I quickly realized that I actually had far fewer reasons
to be nervous than if I were physically going to see my doctor. The normal
jitters around in-person visits didn’t seem to apply.

I was doing everything
from the comfort of my own home, sitting on my own couch. I wasn’t stuck in a
waiting room for 30 minutes or forced to sit awkwardly face-to-face with my
provider. Instead, I was able to sip my coffee, and have a more natural
conversation that flowed easily and quickly got to the root of the health
problems that I was experiencing. I became more comfortable with my provider
because it was just like video chatting with a friend—one who was particularly
concerned about my health and well-being.

As a first-time
telehealth user, I understand why our methods of health care are becoming more
virtual. Why bother to physically see your provider if it’s not absolutely necessary?

Not only is
telehealth convenient in times of public health crises such as the COVID-19
pandemic, but it also eliminates the hassle of transportation to and from
appointments, finding parking, extra time spent waiting for other patients to
be finished, and the overall unease of going into a physical doctor’s office. It
also makes healthcare more accessible to those in remote, rural areas and those
who are physically unable to leave their home.

I believe that
telehealth will ultimately become a main mode of medicine and healthcare
practice for common conditions and periodic follow-up, even after the
coronavirus pandemic ends.

Telehealth
really is my new best friend, and it should be yours, too.

Sources:

Center for
Connected Health Policy. (n.d.). About Telehealth. Retrieved March 31, 2020,
from

https://www.cchpca.org/about/about-telehealth

Gogia, S. (2020). Fundamentals of Telehealth and Telemedicine. Elsevier. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-814309-4.09990-0

Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay





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