The rise of telehealth due to the pandemic has been unprecedented. CNBC reports that telehealth visits in March surged to 50%, with telemedicine providers such as Teledoc reporting more than 15,000 video call requests per day. However, with it being a relatively new platform — there are still a lot of patients who have questions that go unanswered. This may lead to some hesitation to try out telehealth in the first place, even when it’s the more convenient option for the patient.
That said, we’ve listed a few common questions that your patients may have about telehealth, and how you can answer them. This way, you can anticipate and eliminate hesitation from the get-go.
Will I get a proper diagnosis from telehealth?
As doctors, we know that physical exams aren’t always necessary to diagnose and treat some conditions. This is because medical history is known to be 90% of the evaluation when combined with doctor-patient interaction. Not to mention, being able to send and receive picture uploads on telehealth platforms can give the additional visual information needed to make a diagnosis.
However, it’s also important to note that not every situation is right for telehealth platforms. Remote visits are only meant for certain cases, and if at any point during the consultation the physician feels the patient can’t be treated adequately via video, an in-person visit can be arranged. Furthermore, telehealth can actually improve outcomes by making it easier for people to comply with follow-up recommendations and aftercare, which can reduce overall hospital visits.
Is telehealth expensive?
The short answer is that no, telehealth is not expensive. In an article entitled ‘5 Ways Telehealth is Taking Modern Healthcare to the Next Level’, Dr. Mariea Snell explains that more and more health insurance companies, along with Medicaid and Medicare, are reimbursing the use of telehealth. As a result, this helps telehealth to be seen as a more viable, trustworthy system. Not to mention, telehealth allows patients to manage their health and be proactive about solving issues before they arise. In turn, this reduces the cost of traveling and results in less frequent visits to the hospital in the long run.
But as a profession, it is sometimes hard to get across the benefits of telehealth to patients. However, Maryville University’s online MSN program shows how the next generation of nurses are being prepared for this digital switch when treating patients. And as more graduates switch to these roles, the better they will be able to educate patients on the benefits of telehealth moving forward. One important aspect of this is showing patients how affordable it is compared to traditional methods. So if you aren’t up to date with how cost-efficient it is, then you need to be able to set your patients’ minds at ease if they ask any questions regarding costs.
What conditions can get treated via telehealth?
Telehealth can be used to diagnose conditions across many different specialties. From rashes and sinus infections to mental health or substance abuse counseling, one can receive a variety of diagnoses from doctors. Post-op check-ins and reviewing lab results can also be done via telehealth platforms these days.
Can I get a prescription via telehealth?
The short answer is yes, a patient can receive prescriptions via telehealth consultations, reports our writer Skye Green. Medication refills and e-prescribing via a patient portal or pharmacy app can be done. Even better, mail-order medications can also limit trips to the pharmacy to ensure total safety. However, this depends on the diagnosis. As long as it doesn’t require further in-person examinations, doctors can simply e-prescribe the medication and send it directly to the nearest pharmacy.
Is telehealth secure?
A study by cybersecurity firm CynergisTek on telehealth use shows that 48% of respondents would be unlikely to use virtual care again if their health information was compromised due to a telehealth-related breach. This is why it’s important to reassure patients that only secure platforms will be used. Ensure that your telemedicine services meet all the necessary security certificates to safeguard and protect your organization and patient data. This is crucial not just for data protection, but to ensure doctor-patient confidentiality as well.
Written by Sophie Green for advancedmd.com