Telemedicine and its role in revolutionizing healthcare delivery
Telemedicine, which enables video or phone appointments between a patient and their health care practitioner, benefits both health and convenience. More health care providers are offering to “see” patients by computer and smartphone.
“Health organizations are providing virtual appointments and are expanding their telehealth options, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Brian Hasselfeld, M.D. Hasselfeld is assistant medical director for digital health innovations at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Improved technology has made telemedicine easier, even for those who don’t consider themselves computer savvy. Patients can use telemedicine through the MyChart online platform or mobile app, and request a virtual visit with many Johns Hopkins doctors, practitioners and therapists.
Telemedicine, also known as telehealth, offers many advantages, including:
Comfort and Convenience
With telemedicine, you don’t have to drive to the doctor’s office or clinic, park, walk or sit in a waiting room when you’re sick. You can see your doctor from the comfort of your own bed or sofa. Virtual visits can be easier to fit into your busy schedule. With telemedicine, depending on your schedule, you may not even have to take leave time from work or arrange for child care.
Control of Infectious Illness
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, flu and other infectious diseases, doctors can use telehealth appointments to prescreen patients for possible infectious disease. It also saves sick people from having to come in to the office. Less exposure to other people’s germs helps everyone, especially those who are chronically ill, pregnant, elderly or immunocompromised.
Telemedicine can give some specialty practitioners an advantage because they can see you in your home environment. For example, allergists may be able to identify clues in your surroundings that cause allergies. Neurologists and physical and occupational therapists can observe you and assess your ability to navigate and take care of yourself in your home. Telemedicine is also a good way to get mental health assessment and counseling.
When consulting with your doctor, it’s always good to have a family member who can help you provide information, ask questions and take note of your doctor’s answers. If that person lives out of town, or even across the country, telemedicine can loop your family member in on the virtual visit if you authorize it.
Primary Care and Chronic Condition Management
Regular visits with primary care practitioners such as those specializing in family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics, are essential to your family’s health. Telemedicine makes it easy to connect with a doctor or nurse practitioner. Some systems are set up so that new patients can get an appointment with the next available practitioner, which can save time.