America is Phoning It In


Cathy Cardew, Preventionist

Now more than ever in the world we live in currently, the hot word on everyone's lips is "telehealth."What's telehealth you ask?

Telehealth is the use of electronic information, telecommunication and technology to support things we would have usually done in-person such as clinical health care, health-related education, public health and administration, etc. Telehealth encompasses so much and is truly the next rising wave in health care.Some examples of Telehealth include:

  • Patient Portal – many of us have seen this during our doctor's visits.This is a great way to manage your medical information, communicate with your doctor's office, get test results, request prescription refills, schedule appointments, and even share personal health records with other doctors.
  • Remote Monitoring – There are many devices out there that someone may use/wear that automatically record and transmit health information to your doctor such as blood pressure, glucose levels, heart rate, sleep patterns, etc. This is a great way for your doctor to stay connected to you and track everyday functions without the hassle of having to call in and report to him/her on a regular basis.
  • Virtual Appointments – This particular type of telehealth is probably the most popular right now given the pandemic we are currently in.This allows you to have a "doctor's visit" online via video conferencing.When using this kind of service you usually first log into a web-based service and answer a series of questions regarding yourself and what the presenting problem is before speaking with a doctor.Doctors and nurse practitioner can evaluate the situation, prescribe medications, suggest home care strategies, or recommend additional medical care.Usually these kind of appointment is often used for "sick visit" cases.Well/annual check-ins are always best in person.
  • Doctor to Doctor – Doctors can also access a virtual consultation system where they can send exam notes, patient history, test results, and images to other doctors.They can consult with a specialist as well as refer their patients to them to create the best continuum of care for an individual.

Given the current Coronavirus crisis outbreak, the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) just announced that it will waive HIPAA violation penalties for health care providers so that they can better serve patients through telehealth during this public health emergency.This waiver will apply popular communication apps such as FaceTime or Skype to be used so that doctors can get to their patients in a more direct way while still practicing the recommended act of social distancing.The future is upon us with telehealth and just in the nick of time.Stay well!

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