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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect Ohio and the rest of the United States, a new study finds more people than ever are turning to the benefits of telehealth for care. They’re avoiding overcrowded emergency departments and offices in favor of virtual doctor visits. Some doctors are already predicting that they’ll see telehealth visits continue to trend even after the pandemic eventually subsides.
Telehealth technology is not meant to replace your relationship with your primary care. It's an online doctor visit that provides a new option for minor health conditions. Telehealth services connect you with your physician via your phone, laptop or computer.
It used to be the only people who experienced the benefits of telehealth technology were those who live in rural areas. But as the study found, it’s not just remote patients who are taking advantage of this relatively new way for doctors to interact with patients. So, let’s look at the results of the study and how telehealth may fit into your overall healthcare plan.
This is a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.
Researchers at NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine wanted to know what type of impact telehealth was having on overall patient care. Results show that over a six week period, 2,656 unique providers conducted 144,940 video visits with 115,789 unique patients. The study’s lead author says the pandemic created an urgent need to push the front lines to locations far from hospitals and doctor's offices. Telehealth allowed it to happen.
In fact, virtual urgent care visits at NYU Langone Health grew by 683%, and non-urgent virtual care visits grew by a staggering 4,345% between March 2 and April 14. Although the study specifically focused on patients seeking care in New York, one of the study’s co-authors said that it shows "the generalizability of telehealth."
Similar results are being seen by psychiatrists. A separate study found that psychiatrists offering telemedicine for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic have had largely positive perceptions of the transition. The study’s lead author says the key finding is that the rapid transition to telemedicine went fairly smoothly. Despite the success, many psychiatrists say they plan to return to in-person care when possible, due to the challenges psychiatric telemedicine entails.
The treatment of mental health concerns is one of the key benefits of telehealth. Telemedicine technology for behavioral health use has been on the rise for a number of years, with providers pointing to its accessibility and cost-efficiency as main drivers for patient engagement.
Ohio Medical Group physician Dr. Matthew Stevens says he can tell when something is off with one of his patients. “Especially with established patients. Ninety percent of the exam is knowing the patient well,” Stevens says. “Just by seeing you (virtually) a lot of times, a doctor will know when something is not right.”
Other benefits of telehealth include the management of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol. You can also use your camera to show your doctor things like rashes, or maybe a pink eye. You can share lots of health information in real-time during a virtual doctor visit.
In addition to the medical benefits of telehealth, you’ll enjoy all of the travel time you’ll save because your appointment will be held in the comfort of your own home.
Although the studies are showing that telehealth visits are becoming more popular, there are many people who aren’t familiar with the benefits of telehealth and the quality of care it can provide. So, to help provide some answers, Dr. Stevens used telehealth technology to answer some of the most frequently asked questions he’s been getting about the benefits of telehealth.
So if you’re curious about telehealth, maybe want to learn more about it, or perhaps you’ve already had a telehealth visit but want to hear a different perspective on them, watch our video. Dr. Stevens addresses topics like prescriptions and what happens if you are diagnosed with something during your virtual doctor visit.