So much of the practice of medicine requires patients to share physical space with their healthcare providers, as providers need to perform physical assessments of symptoms, administer physical tests or carry out physical treatments. Yet, a recent and rising trend in healthcare is that of telehealth, which puts physical distance between patients and providers, who connect with one another over the internet and through screens.
Telehealth is undeniably a useful service that makes receiving healthcare more affordable and more convenient for large numbers of the population. Still, telehealth has limited applications. Here are a few of the most common types of care patients access through telehealth, which might prompt you to schedule an online doctor visit today.
Many patients rely on prescription medications to manage chronic health conditions. Patients may obtain a number of refills from their healthcare providers, but eventually, they will need to renew those prescriptions to continue receiving the medication necessary to maintain their current level of health. When a patient is familiar with a medication and needs only a doctor’s signature to gain access to more, they should be able to rely on telehealth as a fast and convenient solution.
Simple Recurring Conditions
Some patients experience health conditions again and again, though they are not considered chronic. Issues like urinary tract infections or migraines require treatment when they appear, and when patients have experienced these issues before, they understand the treatment process well and need a provider only to sign off on essential medications. As with prescription management, telehealth offers an easy solution for acquiring simple care.
Simple Urgent Care Issues
It should be obvious that telehealth is not an ideal solution for complex emergencies like broken legs or heart attacks; for these kinds of issues, providers need to be physically present to administer care. However, there are other urgent care concerns that are easy to address through a screen. For example, providers can recommend treatment to patients suffering from severe colds or stomach bugs using telehealth — and in doing so, they help protect other urgent care patients from catching communicable diseases.
Mental Health Treatment
While physical health often requires physical examination and physical treatment, mental health is much more reliant on hands-off forms of therapy. Patients suffering from mental health concerns can rely entirely on telehealth to connect with high-quality providers with ample experience in the field of mental health. Almost all forms of psychotherapy involve nothing more involved than talking, listening and thinking, which are all possible via telehealth technologies. Providers can also prescribe medications to treat mental health disorders through telehealth.
Lab Test Results
Aside from remote monitoring services (more on those later), most laboratory tests require patients to travel to physical locations. However, when providers receive the results of those tests, they can review them via telehealth with their patients. This allows patients to avoid another trip to a doctor’s office to receive routine information about their health. However, when it comes to more significant laboratory tests — e.g. those looking for cancer or other potentially terminal diseases — it might be more comforting to meet with a provider in person.
Many providers want patients to check back in after a certain period of time to verify that a certain medication is working properly and that the patient has no other concerns or complaints. Follow-up appointments are usually quick and straightforward, so they can almost always take place over telehealth appointments without issue.
Some physical therapy treatments do require providers to use hands-on techniques to guide patients into the proper form to build strength and mobility. However, other forms of physical therapy can be completed by patients at home, with spoken guidance from physical therapy providers. Patients who are engaging with the latter form of physical therapy might consider trying telehealth solutions, which could make it easier to obtain the physical therapy they need on a regular schedule.
Aside from online doctor appointments, telehealth encompasses technologies that allow providers to collect data on patients while patients live their normal lives. Remote monitoring tools connect to the internet and send data back to providers in real-time, so providers have accurate information with which they can devise better diagnoses and treatment plans.
Undoubtedly, the possible applications of telehealth will expand as more patients and providers become comfortable with telehealth solutions. Both patients and providers should look forward to the opportunities provided from telehealth into the future.