Telehealth is a new format for health care which has taken off with the roll out of large scale, reliable internet coverage across the country. It is the distribution of any health-related service via the telephone or internet. That might be diagnosing non-urgent physical illnesses, managing chronic illnesses or helping with mental health concerns.
What are the benefits of telehealth?
There are many benefits of telehealth. For the end user, it can mean their problem is resolved quickly and easily, without the need to attend an appointment. A GP appointment can often take up an entire morning, when you allow for things like travel, GPs running behind schedule and so on. If the same issue can be addressed in a fifteen-minute telephone call or video call, time and resources are saved by both parties.
Telehealth for long term medical conditions
Monitoring long term conditions can become much easier and more manageable, not to mention less invasive for patients. Many people have conditions which require multiple visits to the doctor, and if even some of these can be replaced by a phone call or video call this can be very beneficial for the patient’s quality of life.
Often when someone has a long term medical condition such as diabetes or COPD, they just need to check in with a doctor to monitor their progress. If they can do this remotely it frees up time for both parties.
Telehealth for counselling and mental health
When it comes to mental health, a person may not feel comfortable or even able to leave the home to visit a counsellor. They may worry about the stigma of being seen visiting a counsellor, or they may worry about having to take time out of work to visit a counsellor. Accessing counselling online can be a convenient yet effective way around this.
Telehealth can also be useful for mental health appointments with a GP. Often when a patient is struggling a doctor will want to keep in touch with them to assess their condition. In many cases this can be done via video call, avoiding the need to take up appointment time, or for the patient to come to the surgery which they may find too hard.
Telehealth for initial consultations
Telehealth can be an effective way to deal with triaging patients, to see who needs an appointment with a GP and who needs a repeat prescription or some simple advice. This can mean that people who don’t need to go all the way to their GP surgery can avoid it, and also that GPs are able to see more of the people who really need to have an appointment.
Telehealth for post-surgery follow-ups
These days many surgeries are performed as day surgery, with patients returning home the same day. Often they don’t really need to see a doctor again unless there is a problem so this sort of thing is ideally suited to a video call where a trained professional can ask the relevant questions regarding healing and how the patient is feeling, without the need for the patient to come to the hospital or surgery.