The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has increased the demand for virtual medicine, which lets patients avail of healthcare services in the comfort of their own home. The rollout of telehealth throughout the country has been catalyzed by the current situation, and it seems that the solution of virtual doctor visits will unlikely to be merely temporary.
Outdated rules and regulations presented a barrier for telehealth before the pandemic hit, which saw waivers from state and federal governments in response. Even if things get back to normal, or some form of new normal, the demand for telehealth won’t completely dissipate as the benefit of being able to consult a physician without leaving one’s home is too good a thing to pass up.
The same goes for substance abuse treatment. While the lockdowns have made seeking help for substance abuse more difficult for many people, the availability of telehealth has been helpful to those who require assistance for their condition.
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth, or telemedicine, is when healthcare providers do their practice through online services. It’s a new healthcare channel that enables patients to contact and interact with healthcare providers from home.
The patient contacts their doctor through the Internet with a smartphone or computer. Being able to get medical consultation and assistance through these devices from one’s home provides many benefits, a major one of which is being able to more conveniently procure medical advice.
What is Telehealth Good For?
Imagine being able to do other things around the house while waiting for your doctor. That’s opposed to having to sit there and read old magazines outside the office while waiting your turn. That’s one of the many benefits of telehealth, and that doesn’t even start to scratch the surface.
Being able to avail of healthcare at your convenience is a big plus. You can book an online appointment with your physician or treatment specialist and not have to rush, making it a less stressful experience. If you have a symptom, injury, or question, your doctor is just a video call away. Telehealth makes healthcare more efficient and time-saving.
Telehealth also makes communication between doctor and patient more seamless, not having to be limited to the time you have in the doctor’s office and having to spend most of a day having to go there and wait for your turn. Being able to get to the doctor more quickly without travel time makes telehealth a great addition to healthcare services.
For substance abuse treatment, this makes seeking help for addiction more accessible. That also makes consultations and therapy sessions easier to get to, which makes addiction treatment easier to adhere to.
How Necessary is Telehealth?
Telehealth has become a lifeline for many patients due to the ongoing pandemic. With the coronavirus being so widespread and virulent, people have to minimize their contact with the outside world. Therefore, healthcare providers have turned to telehealth services to expand their reach and continue to provide medical services to those who need them.
Even before the pandemic hit, there had been a slow and steady growth of telehealth in the US. Apps like Doctor on Demand have made it easy for patients with non-life-threatening conditions to consult a physician and get professional medical advice. It has also helped people with substance abuse problems get help. However, technological, credential and financial hurdles have hindered telehealth from being more widely implemented.
But during the pandemic, its importance has become more prominent. People need to be able to get healthcare without putting themselves in harm’s way. Also, with lockdowns and social distancing measures having been put in place, it makes conditions like substance abuse become bigger problems, making telehealth even more important as a healthcare channel.
How Has Telehealth Changed the Medical Practice?
Doctors and patients can use telehealth to keep in touch even during isolation. That means a patient’s healthcare doesn’t need to end simply because they’re unable to physically go to the doctor’s office. The skepticism around whether people will actively use telehealth during this time to stay connected with their doctors has been mostly dispelled thanks to its wider implementation.
The best telehealth platforms allow doctors to see their own patients, letting them administer care and advice as best as they can remotely. This is made even better when the doctor and patient have had a prior relationship, which makes for a more in-depth understanding of the past medical history and current medical status of the patient.
In the case of substance abuse treatment, telehealth makes it possible for patients to attend consultations and therapy sessions at any time. That makes adhering to an outpatient treatment program easier, making it more likely for the patient to become sober. Telehealth is creating more awareness of substance abuse treatment and making it more accessible to those who need it. With telehealth, it’s easier to find a way out of substance abuse.
More and more treatment centers are adopting telehealth as one of their primary treatment options. The pandemic has made it more necessary to have telehealth facilities and training, so it’s likely that telehealth will become a fixture in substance abuse treatment even after the pandemic has passed.
Change is Inevitable
While it may be unfortunate that telehealth gained wider acceptance only when something like this happened, having it become more widely available has made healthcare more accessible to more people.
It also makes healthcare more efficient and gives patients more control over their schedules. It has improved communication between doctors and patients and improved the quality of healthcare for many people.
Even when things go back to normal, or some sort of new normal, telehealth will likely become a mainstay in healthcare, including for substance abuse treatment.
Time will only tell how the world will be changed by the global pandemic. Face masks, social distancing, and general fear of sickness will likely remain for a significant period of time. For the time being, people are less willing to go to the hospital or clinic to visit a physician for their medical needs. The same goes for people with substance abuse problems.
That’s why it’s important for telehealth to be more widely implemented. The benefits of telehealth are numerous, especially for people seeking treatment for substance abuse. Accessibility to treatment has always been a problem when it comes to substance abuse, and telehealth makes it easier to seek that help right in the comfort of one’s own home.