One of the unforeseen benefits of having to live through a pandemic has been the growing acceptance of telehealth services as an effective, trusted way to receive medical care.
Now that we know about the benefits of telehealth, there is no going back.
One of the big advantages, of course, is the financial aspect. It costs less to see a medical practitioner virtually as compared to in person, and it saves money for the overall health care system in this country, too.
But health care is the kind of commodity or service where the cheapest isn’t always the best. Telehealth wouldn’t have grown in acceptance as readily if cost were the only consideration.
Matthew Davidge, founder of virtual care provider Bluestream Health, recently wrote that for many people feeling under the weather, a virtual visit is quicker and more convenient.
“There is flexibility about when and where a patient can experience care by the physician. Because the patient doesn’t need to travel, there are no traffic jams, parking tickets or allotted drive-time back and forth to the appointment. There is also speed for patient care because physicians can be located anywhere and anytime to meet the needs of the patient,” he wrote.
For physicians, there is also the benefit of convenience. But there is also the matter of professional efficiency — seeing as many patients as possible. More patients can be seen in the same number of minutes that a physician is working.
For overall health systems, there are savings of cost, capital investment and facility management.
The cost of rent, heat, electricity and other utilities is significantly cut back when utilizing telehealth.
We can’t envision the providing of health care to ever abandon face-to-face visits. Procedures and in-patient care, for example, require physical facilities.
But the future of health care is stronger and brighter with the realization that some health interactions can be delivered virtually to save money and time but still provide the same level of medical expertise.
Virtual visits via telehealth provide the best of health with immediacy, convenience and expertise — without the “worst” of health — the inconvenience of appointments, waiting, traffic, gas money, time off work and other factors.
It’s ironic that it took a medical crisis — the COVID-19 pandemic — to help the nation realize the benefits of telehealth. But since that is the new reality, it qualifies as the silver lining of the pandemic.