When you think about monitoring your health, the first thing that comes to mind is usually going to the doctor’s office. However, many people don’t go to the doctor’s office frequently, even if they should, for a variety of reasons. Technology has found a new way to help with this issue: Telehealth. Telehealth is the process of utilizing digital information and computers/phones to remotely access healthcare services.
There are many reasons that you may consider using Telehealth. If you live in a rural area far away from a doctor’s office, it may be challenging to physically get to the doctor. Some people may find going to the doctor not worth the hassle if it’s only for a minor issue or check-up appointment. People with limited mobility may find it difficult to go in person. Some patients might require a specialist that lives in a completely different area or state. These are just a few examples when Telehealth could make a difference.
Telehealth can take many different forms. Apps where you can track medication doses, food intake, blood sugar levels, and many other health measures are great examples of Telehealth. Some of these apps even allow your nurse or doctor to view your information and give feedback. Putting all of your important medical information and history into a Personal Health Record app allows a medical professional to see all of your important health info in case of an emergency. Health apps are a good way to self-manage your health care and keep tabs on important information in between doctor visits.
Online patient portals are another great Telehealth tool to utilize. Some primary care clinics have a secure online site where you can access important medical information. Through the portal you can see information from past appointments or tests, refill prescriptions, make appointments, and talk with your doctor or nurse.
One of the main features of Telehealth is virtual appointments. Some virtual appointments may allow you to video conference with a doctor or nurse in place of going in to a physical appointment. These virtual visits allow doctors to see what’s going on and can function similarly to a normal visit without the need to be physically together. You can also utilize a web-based service where you can answer questions online about symptoms you are experiencing and a doctor or nurse can help prescribe medication or medical care.
Other Telehealth features include virtual monitoring and consulting with specialists. Besides recording and transmitting medical information on apps, certain devices can be used to monitor things like blood sugar, heart rate, sleep patterns, etc. and transmit them to doctors. Doctors can also electronically connect with specialists to go over patient information in place of the hassle of in person referrals.
In order to access Telehealth services, you will need to be able to access the internet, either through a computer or phone. Many telehealth services also involve apps, which can be downloaded on those devices as well. Certain electronic monitoring may require you to purchase a monitoring device, which your doctor can recommend to you.
Telehealth has become extremely important recently, as in person visits to medical facilities have been greatly limited or not allowed during the pandemic. The ability to get medical information and consultation electronically reduces the risk of spreading infection and allows for medical help that would otherwise not be available. Even pre-pandemic, telehealth has been gaining popularity as it is an easier way to monitor your health more consistently and gives you greater access to health services.