Once upon a time, there was a family doctor who made house calls. In recent decades, getting access to any kind of health care at all has become a confusing maze for many people as they struggle to navigate choosing a provider who is in-network for their insurance—if they have insurance at all—and available to take new patients. While the days of friendly doctors making house calls may be gone, advances in telehealth are making health care more accessible and has the potential to continue doing so. For the foreseeable future, telehealth works well as an adjunct to rather than a replacement for in-person health care, but it can make a significant difference in many lives.
Young people can be bad at taking care of themselves, and this often doesn’t stop when they head off to college. They may push themselves too hard even when sick, with fear of missing out overcoming a sense of caution. Students might also avoid visiting the campus health care office in person for any number of reasons. If they are stressed out about juggling classes and other responsibilities, they might put it off with the assumption that they don’t have time. A student first telehealth provider can help ensure that students have more ways to access health care. They might be unlikely to make an appointment on campus to find out if what they have is just a cold or something more serious, but they are far more likely to do a quick check-in online at their convenience.
For many non-students, telehealth offers similar advantages. Many may be reluctant to take time off work if they aren’t sure how serious an illness or injury is, and if they also have children or other obligations, they may struggle to find the time. From the provider’s standpoint, it can mean fewer missed appointments overall.
Managing Chronic Conditions
While living with a chronic condition can be tough, managing it can add an extra burden. Some may miss work or other obligations because of the frequent medical appointments they must go to. Remote monitoring and telehealth can cut back on how often they have to do this and can improve quality of life. In some cases, devices can monitor certain aspects automatically and return information to a doctor’s office. This kind of data gathering will probably become increasingly common in the future, with artificial intelligence playing a larger role.
Home Health Care
Telehealth is also growing in the hospice industry and for other home health care services. There are a number of reasons this can be advantageous. In places that have extreme weather conditions, telehealth allows medical providers to continue making visits even when snow or ice might prevent it. Telehealth can also allow more providers to reach out to people in remote areas that might not otherwise be able to access regular home health care. Furthermore, telehealth’s time-saving advantage is not just on the patient end. Rather than driving from house to house, a home health care provider can see many more patients over the course of a day using telehealth.