In the year 2020, the phrase “going to the doctor” changed considerably for a large portion of the population. As the pandemic began shutting down our cities, businesses, and—in some cases—medical offices and facilities, providers had to figure out a way to continue the communication with their patients without unnecessarily putting them and their staff at risk of infection.
Telemedicine was already a growing trend before 2020. Many offices across the nation were experimenting with the use of technology to improve and increase patient visits or facilitate visitations for people that were disabled, incapacitated, or found it difficult to get to the doctor’s office.
As COVID-19 spread across America, healthcare providers resorted to this emerging option to maintain contact with patients. When it came to pediatric care, the use of telemedicine proved equally useful in helping curve the spread by keeping people at home and diagnosing children via video chat. Learn more about the advent of telemedicine, today!
The Surprising History of Telehealth
For some, the idea of distant health care started all the way back in 1925, where a magazine cover shows a doctor diagnosing a patient via radio. NASA also participated in some early telemedicine as they conducted physiologic monitoring over a distance. The state of Alaska has been using forms of telemedicine for a long time, as people in remote villages are often tested through telephone. The doctor would then assess if they had to make the trek to the specialist in the city.
Dermatology and psychology are two of the biggest areas that have used telemedicine. Studies about the efficiency and effectiveness of telemedicine diagnosis have been studied since as early as the 1990s. These studies have shown high rates of agreement between diagnoses made in person and those done via telemedicine methods.
What Does Telehealth Consist of?
Telemedicine is the practice of patient and doctor conducting a visit via telephone or a virtual call. A medical provider will schedule an appointment with a patient and the doctor’s office will call the patient at the scheduled time. If the appointment is using a virtual conference call system, the call might be scheduled using any number of teleconferencing programs or apps such as WhatsApp or Zoom. Patients usually are required to have some form of internet or Wi-fi connection, smartphone, computer, or tablet, one of the above-mentioned applications.
Are the Telehealth Calls Secure?
Many parents and patients often wonder about security and privacy when it comes to using the internet and applications to discuss medical information. Most medical providers have accounts with Zoom or other applications that are fully HIPPA compliant and protected from hacking or what is often called “Zoom-bombing.” The calls are initiated through secure accounts, so even when the patient receives the call on a personal account, the calls are considered secure.
The above method seems to be the most used, but telehealth can also be delivered in one of three ways, as outlined by Harvard Health:
- Synchronous – When the doctor communicates with the patient in real-time via computer or telephone.
- Asynchronous- when messages are recorded to share with the doctor later.
- Remote patient monitoring- When measurements such as weight or blood pressure are sent to the healthcare provider on a regular basis.
What are Some of the Advantages of Telemedicine?
The use of technology and conference calls for routine doctor visits can have several benefits including cost-savings, convenience, and the extension of healthcare services to people that might be immobile or living in remote places. Over the last decade, this has led to higher demand and more frequent use of telemedicine.
According to Harvard Health, 76% of hospitals in the U.S connect patients and doctors through telemedicine. This is a large number of patients and extends to other practices including specialists like dermatologists, pediatricians, and more.
How Telehealth is Helping Children During the Pandemic
Telemedicine can be very effective in serving as a cursory or initial visit that saves the patient a trip to the doctor. When it comes to children suffering from common ailments like colds, flu, and strep throat, a telemedicine appointment can be a good way to ensure there is nothing serious beyond that.
So, while telehealth does not replace the visit to your pediatrician, it can provide a convenient way to communicate with your child’s doctor without making a trip to the clinic. This was especially useful when the spread of the Coronavirus was raging across the country. Even after the pandemic subdues, however, telehealth will still have a rightful place in healthcare.
Contact Peds on Demand, Today!
Peds on Demand has a professional team of pediatricians and healthcare providers that offer telehealth appointments to parents who are worried about their child’s health but worried about visiting the clinic.