The Evolution of Telehealth

The Evolution of Telehealth

Telehealth allows for much more flexibility than a traditional in-person appointment method, and you can still receive the medical care that you are seeking.

Telehealth, or telemedicine, allows you to connect with your doctor online, from anywhere you choose. The medical world has made many incredible advancements in the last two hundred years. From changes as simple as increased sanitation of food and water, to progress in developing cures for cancer, medicine has changed greatly, and its incorporation of computers, virtual connections, and various kinds of medical scans and technology has developed a new way to receive medical care: telehealth.  Telemedicine has evolved a lot in recent years, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic, and is very promising for both current medicine and the future.

COVID-19’s Influence

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many aspects of daily life that were typically conducted in person had to be shifted online. Going in person to a doctor’s office during a pandemic is even riskier than, say, going in person to the grocery store, because your risk of being exposed to a disease is much higher at a place where people go when they are sick. So the practice of telehealth became much more commonplace due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who were just due for a well-check could easily check in with their doctors, and stay safer, from home. The expansion of telehealth during the recent pandemic has helped greatly reduce the spread of COVID-19.

And for those patients that weren’t just looking for a well-check, and truly needed medical treatment for an illness, telehealth was even more important. Someone who is undergoing cancer treatment, for example, has a compromised immune system, and communicating with their doctor through technology is a much safer option during a pandemic. Both patients and medical professionals alike increased their use of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What’s Great About Telehealth

There are a lot of benefits to telehealth, hence why it has become so widespread. One of the most obvious pros to telehealth is that it is convenient. Oftentimes, people have to take time off of work to attend their doctor’s appointments, and it can take a long time for the person to be called back into the office, to talk with their doctor, and to get to and from the appointment. Telehealth meets the patients’ needs, in terms of location and time. It’s much easier to hop on a Zoom call from your house than to drive to the doctor’s office and wait to see a doctor in person.

An additional benefit is that telehealth can be used for so many things. Along with a normal well-check or physical appointment, telehealth can also be useful when discussing recurring issues, a skin condition, a prescription refill, common cold symptoms, and follow-ups to procedures. Telehealth can even expand outside of physical health- one of the biggest uses of telehealth is for mental health practices, such as counseling and therapy.

Restrictions of Telehealth

Of course, there are restrictions and downsides to telehealth, as well. No matter how advanced our medical technology becomes, there will likely always be activities and medical practices that won’t be able to be done through a computer screen, such as an MRI, a blood draw, or surgery. This particular restriction sparks curiosity and wonder about the future of telehealth. Can we develop it any further? Are there any more medical practices or treatments that can be moved online, or has telehealth reached its peak usefulness?

Additionally, there will always be some people who prefer to see their doctor in person, whether it is for a feeling of a more intimate and personal connection, or so their doctor can physically witness or inspect a symptom. When the COVID-19 pandemic is officially over, and it is safer to go to a doctor’s office in person, it will be interesting to see if telehealth remains as popular and common as it is right now.

It may seem like the plot of a futuristic movie, but seeing the doctor online and engaging in telehealth has become increasingly popular over the past year and a half. The evolution of telehealth has been rapid and fascinating, and its future will be one to watch.

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