When we think of seeing a doctor, we think of paper gowns and bright fluorescent lights. Or, we think of the
cinematic image of lying on a couch, describing our feelings to a bespectacled therapist taking notes on a
yellow notepad. In early 2020, the COVID-19 virus became infamous and changed many aspects of our lives.
Almost overnight, we were practicing social distancing, wearing masks, and doing as many activities remotely as we could.
Just about every sector of business was affected, including doctors and other practitioners: how were these
professionals going to provide the support and services that their clients needed while appropriately social
distancing? One solution came about in the form of Telehealth where a healthcare practitioner uses a video
conferencing/web conferencing platform to provide virtual care and support for their clients.
create custom healthcare portals.
Personally, I have used telehealth many times: I have spoken with two therapists over telehealth on several
occasions, and I have had a few telehealth appointments at my local doctor’s office as well, where my general
practitioner was located. From these experiences, I have found that telehealth is very flexible for my
lifestyle, and allows me more options to find the right people for me: both of the therapists I am very
happy with, even though they are over an hour away, but with telehealth I am able to connect with these
therapists and get the care that I am looking for.
According to Healthcare IT News, there were about 1.6 million telehealth visits in January – March 2020,
and specifically a 154% increase in the last week of March by comparing March 2019 and March 2020 usage.
While this was the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic period, according to the FAIR Health report, 69.5%
of visits in November were performed as telehealth visits, compared to 29.8% for office visits, and the
telehealth market is expected to continue to grow overall.
As many of our public and private healthcare
practitioners move to include telehealth as an option to connect with their patients, this expands the need
to create platforms that these providers could use. Some of the more popular platforms include Mend,
Doxy.me, and AMC Health. Along with using a Zoom-like application, companies like Betterhelp.com and
Talkspace.com provide patients with the ability to text their doctor/provider: this allows patients to
communicate with their doctors in a discreet way that can be helpful if they are in a place where they
cannot or do not feel comfortable communicating verbally.
Many of these platforms can be used either on a computer, or a smartphone, allowing patients the flexibility
to meet with their providers wherever they may be. Not only that, but this can also allow patients a wider r
ange of providers to choose from, helping patients find the provider that is just right for them. As flexible
as this seems, it has had it’s challenges, just like using any new form of technology. Many offices had to
teach their patients how to use these telehealth platforms, requiring their staff to become
pseudo-IT-tech-support representatives. Not to mention the normal technology problems that seem to
happen any/every day: Internet connection issues, speaker/microphone not working correctly, or
just not being able to login.
Another challenge that faces the telehealth industry is ability to access the appropriate equipment in order to participate in telehealth.
The Veteran’s Health Administration even put together a tablet loan program so that veterans could use telehealth as needed,
showing that not everyone who needs medical care has the mobile equipment needed to participate in telehealth. And, many people
live in rural areas where the internet connection is not reliable at all, which may push people in these areas to delay in getting
the care that they need.
Overall, telehealth is a flexible platform that benefits many patients. While it may not be the best option for
people without a strong internet connection, or people who do not have the appropriate equipment, it can allow
patients more flexibility to meet with their providers, and to choose a provider that many before suited for them,
but is physically located a bit farther away. While we may always think of bright fluorescent lights, cold paper
gowns, and lumpy couches, telehealth platforms have changed how patients and providers interact.
Falcn Lab can help you
build your next telehealth platform and scale to your business needs.