August 26, 2021
As a healthcare PR agency, it’s our job to examine the latest industry trends and developments. One trend on the minds of many of our healthcare IT clients is the rapid rise of telehealth. The pandemic has accelerated telehealth’s adoption, but will things return to the way they were post-pandemic, or will this growth continue?
If we can conduct business virtually, educate our kids online and hang out with loved ones through a computer, what about seeing a doctor? Telemedicine is not new, but a 2021 study found one in three adults turned to telehealth in the wake of the pandemic with some providers reporting a 4000% uptick in virtual visits.
Yes, we’re more connected, but is that just on the surface? Let’s look at both sides of the equation.
- No risk of COVID exposure
- Less time away from work
- Continuity of care, even during lockdown
- Reduction of staffing demands
- Patients without transportation can still receive care
- Minority patients can connect with culturally competent/multilingual doctors
- Expanded mental health resources
- After-hours concerns can still be addressed
- A spotty connection could mean frustration at best and misdiagnosis at worst
- No physical exams
- Cyber security risk
- Interconnectivity could widen the digital divide
- Disparities in insurance coverage
So, how do these criteria apply to the real world? We decided to query our own colleagues – who are not only well-versed in the world of healthcare IT, but are also patients themselves utilizing telemedicine – to see what they think about virtual care. Perhaps unsurprisingly, reactions were quite mixed.
Ashley Owen, Senior Account Director, had an overall positive experience, but sees room for improvement. “Telehealth has been a great resource during the pandemic,” Owen said. “Last year, I had my physical via telehealth. However, there was no process in place to schedule the next visit; fast forward to July 2021 when I realized I hadn’t made that appointment and the soonest I could get in was March of 2022. It was a good reminder that telehealth has come far, but still has a way to go before being 100% comparable to in-person visits.”
Kara McCrudden, Senior Account Executive, likes the idea of being able to easily chat with a doctor. “If it is a case where you want to discuss a health concern, having a quick virtual appointment can be more efficient. I hope telehealth is an offering that is here to stay.”
Emily Wisner, Account Executive, thinks telemedicine is good in cases where a physical exam isn’t necessary, but there are limits to virtual medicine. “Every telehealth appointment I’ve had with a doctor, I’ve been told they can’t help me unless I come in person, so it was a waste of time and money. It is hard to see how the quality of virtual care could be as good as an in-person visit.”
Others like Maddi Larsen, Account Coordinator, had a negative experience. “At the beginning of the pandemic, I was participating in therapy,” Larsen said. “When things transitioned to the virtual space, I stopped experiencing the benefits of therapy that I was used to. I found that I couldn’t really be present. I was distracted by things in my space, and overall it felt impersonal to me. I stopped going.”
Overall, it seems like the accelerated adoption of telehealth has been a net positive outcome of the pandemic, but there is certainly plenty of room for improvement. Do you think we should continue to embrace telehealth as the wave of the future, or do you hate the idea of a virtual doctor? Share your thoughts and experiences with Aria Marketing on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.