Virtual Reality is coming to be one of the twenty-first century’s newest fads. From swimming with whales to visiting the top of Mt. Everest, one can truly “do it all” in this new virtual environment. Even if one cannot visit far off places using virtual reality, these experiences are still accessible through videos and even audio recordings. These modalities offer the ability to see and interact with something (far) beyond the immediate environment.
Over time, people have become busier and travel has become costly and time-consuming. As a result, technology has allowed people to video chat, phone conference, or email one another instead of physically visiting one another. In more recent times, the medical industry has taken note of these changes and developed something new as a result.
It’s called telehealth.
Telehealth is a rapidly accelerating trend in today’s healthcare industry, providing patients with the ability to remotely connect with their healthcare providers. According to the National Telehealth Policy Resource Center at the Center for Connected Health Policy, “telehealth encompasses a broad variety of technologies and tactics to deliver virtual medical, health, and education services. Telehealth is not a specific service, but a collection of means to enhance care and education delivery.” They continue that telehealth, “encompasses four distinct domains of applications,” which are the following: live video, store-and-forward, remote patient monitoring, and mobile health.
“UnitedHealthcare today is announcing a partnership with three telemedicine companies to cover video-based doctor visits just as it covers in-person visits. The tech set has for decades predicted that we would one day get our medical care via video chat, but it wasn’t until recently that forward-thinking physicians started taking the promise of telemedicine seriously. The decision by so influential a player in the healthcare industry to telemedicine is the strongest sign yet that the technology is entering the mainstream.”
So, what do you personally have to look forward to in this new world of telehealth? Well, ask yourself this question. When you are sick with the flu, do you want to get out of bed, get dressed, drive to the doctor’s office, wait in the waiting room, see the doctor, go to the pharmacy, and then go home? Or, alternatively, do you want to stay in bed, meet with the doctor for a few minutes once he/she is ready for you via video, phone, text, or app-usage, and then go back to sleep, perhaps ultimately with your prescription dropped at your doorstep? The answer is probably pretty easy.
Telehealth is on the rise and here to stay. How will this affect your care? Do you think it can impact your diagnoses? Do you think it will be a help or a hindrance? Tweet me @JonBelsher to continue the conversation!