Telehealth has a lot of positives to commend it to medical care. Of course, there are the direct patient encounters, which are probably what most people think of first when telehealth is mentioned. In these, a patient visits with a provider through a videoconferencing connection, the provider asks questions and reviews the patient’s symptoms and maybe even listens to the patients heartbeat and lung function through an electronic stethoscope. With the knowledge derived during that encounter, the provider arrives at a diagnosis and orders continuing care. That’s a big portion of telehealth, but there are other aspects that are equally important.
Today we’ve been working with a provider who wants to follow up with a patient using telehealth. The patient lives 250 miles away, so it would be foolish to ask him to drive all the way to the provider’s office for a ten-minute check to make sure the prescribed care is working and that the patient is responding. But to miss the follow-up could be problematic if there are negative changes. Telehealth can certainly handle a situation like that, the patient can avoid travel and the provider can be sure the action taken is working. We’ve seen post-surgery follow-up, post-chemotherapy follow-up and diabetes treatment follow-up. These visits work and work well.
Yes, there’s a lot more to telehealth than the initial meeting.
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