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Telemedicine Is Here to Stay: Get Used to It

Research shows telehealth increases patient satisfaction.

Key points

  • Telehealth became popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, but various applications have been around for more than 30 years.
  • Telehealth can improve clinical outcomes with added benefits like reducing patient and provider travel times.
  • According to one telehealth study, 89% of patient feedback was positive and 76% would recommend telehealth to a friend.

Telemedicine (aka telehealth or teletherapy) went from virtual obscurity to center stage in 2020. Some love it. Others hate it. I’m in the “love it” category.

The use of telemedicine took off with the speed of light in the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s not a new concept—various applications have been around for more than 30 years. What could be better for a doctor than to deliver excellent health care services via telecommunications technology to patients at some distance from their provider? As a telehealth psychologist, it’s working for me. I diagnose, treat, and consult with interdisciplinary teams at hospitals around the country to better serve patients. I conduct powerful psycho-educational workshops, conferences, etc., all while seated in front of my computer/iPad in the comfort of my office or home.

Ethics and Standards

The same impeccable standards of care and attention to law and ethics apply to psychologists when delivering health care to patients via telemedicine (e.g., obtaining patients, appropriate documentation, etc.). Telehealth is a post-COVID-19 reality, so the smart money is on virtual care—it's here to stay.

New research illuminates a bright spot for virtual care that makes it attractive, productive, and lucrative for providers and patients. In this way, telehealth improves access, quality of care, and efficiency, not to mention enhanced cost-effectiveness. For example, telehealth consultations can improve clinical outcomes with reduced wait times, reduce time to treatment, and increase the numbers of patients receiving indicated diagnostic tests or treatments in my field of neuropsychology/psychiatry.

The Perks and Benefits

Time saver? You bet! Telehealth cuts down on patient/provider travel time, increasing a patient’s family and personal life productivity. Although given the recent “cabin fever” epidemic, some may argue spending more time with family is a debatable “win” (lol)—nonetheless, you get the point.

Shutdown

While clinic doors have been closed to in-person routine visits over the past year, statisticians continue to gather empirical research on #telemedicine and patient satisfaction. The following sample outcome of one such study paints a promising picture.

  • 75% of all visits were done virtually
  • 89% of patient feedback was positive
  • 76% of patients would recommend telemedicine to a friend

Finally, as a media guest expert psychologist, telecommunications has lifted the restraints of “in-studio”-only interviews. With only an iPhone/iPad and the studio IT guy, any healthcare provider can share their expert patient advice on live TV. Bam! Works for me. How ‘bout you: patient or provider?

To find a therapist, please visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.

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