By Connie Colbert
Director of the Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
With the onset of COVID-19, the health community had to find ways to expand its services. Telemedicine was a good start.
Telemedicine has been around for a long time, but it is not being used enough. But now is the perfect time to show the public how important it can be to care.
So … what is telehealth?
Telehealth is the use of communication technologies for remote health care. These technologies can include computers, cameras, video conferencing, the Internet, and satellite and wireless communications. Some examples of telehealth are:
- A “virtual visit” to a healthcare provider via phone call or video chat
- Remote patient monitoring that your provider can use to check you out at home. For example, you could wear a device that measures your heart rate and sends that information to your provider.
- A surgeon who uses robotic technology to perform operations from another location
- Sensors that can alert caregivers when someone with dementia leaves the home
- Send your provider a message about your electronic health record (EHR).
- Watch an online video your provider gave you about using an inhaler
- Receive an email, phone, or text reminder that it is time for cancer screening
Are there different forms of telehealth?
Sometimes people use the term telemedicine to mean the same thing as telemedicine. Telehealth is a broader term. It includes telemedicine. But this also includes training for health care providers, administrative meetings in health care, and services from pharmacists and social workers.
Why should I use telemedicine?
Some of the benefits of telehealth are:
- Home care, especially for people who cannot easily get to their providers offices
- Care from a specialist who is not around
- Care outside of office hours
- More communication with your providers
- Better communication and coordination between health care providers
- More support for people dealing with their health conditions, especially those with chronic conditions like diabetes
- Lower cost as virtual visits may be cheaper than personal visits
Telehealth is imperfect and has limitations
Some of the problems with telehealth are:
- If your virtual visit is with someone other than your regular provider, he or she may not have your entire medical history.
- After a virtual visit, it may be up to you to coordinate your care with your regular provider.
- In some cases, the provider may not be able to make the correct diagnosis without examining you personally. Or your provider may need to invite you to a lab test.
- There can be problems with the technology; For example, if you lose connection then there is a problem with the software, etc.
- Some insurance companies may not cover telemedicine visits.
Which appointments can be made via telemedicine?
- General health care, such as spa visits
- Prescription Refills
- Skin problems / dermatology
- Nutritional advice
- Psychological counseling
- Urgent care conditions like sinusitis, urinary tract infections, frequent rashes, pink eyes
- General health issues
For telemedicine visits as well as for a face-to-face visit, it is important to be prepared and have good communication.
Ask your doctor to make an appointment! Canyon Health and Wellness and Cigna are currently offering low-cost telemedicine visits.