In today’s world going to the doctor is not how it used to be. Any COVID symptoms such as a sore throat or fever will require you to get a COVID test before you are even allowed to walk into a GP. This can be frustrating for patients who just want to see a doctor so they can feel better sooner. There is a solution for this, telehealth.
What is telehealth?
Telehealth is any health service that is done remotely, such as a phone appointment or a video chat with your doctor. This has been a great option for patients and health staff during the pandemic as it has offered flexibility and safety for appointments. Telehealth has been around for a while now, but has recently become a more common option for patients due to the pandemic. Before the pandemic, telehealth was typically used by patients in remote communities to access health professionals.
Some services that are included in telehealth are:
- GP services and after hour consults
- Mental health treatment
- Chronic disease management
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health assessments
- Services to people with eating disorders
- Pregnancy support counselling
- Services for patients in aged care facilities
- Services for children with autism
Telehealth has changed the healthcare industry, as there has been an increase in telehealth appointments due to COVID. With many concerns about safety, telehealth has been the solution for many patients needing appointments to contact their doctor without leaving the safety of their homes. There are many benefits to telehealth as well such as reduced costs, reduced travel time and increased access to care.
As with everything, there are always some disadvantages. Disadvantages of telehealth is that there is a lack of in-person testing. It is not possible to do X-Rays or CT Scans virtually; this is an issue when required for patients. Communication barriers are also an issue as well as limited access to technology for vulnerable patients. Not all healthcare is possible via telehealth and it is more difficult for health professionals to diagnose patients, but not impossible.
Telehealth is predicted to be in the future of healthcare as it assists patients and doctors around the in person safety barriers of COVID. It won’t replace traditional in person healthcare, as it has its limitations, but will assist when in person appointments are not possible for patients and health professionals. Telehealth is on the rise, becoming more popular with patients in cities, providing more flexibility and safety to receive care.
Boyers L, 2020, How Telehealth Is Changing Health Care, Very Well Health, viewed 9th March 2021,<https://www.verywellhealth.com/telehealth-future-healthcare-5080929>.
Middlemiss N, 2020, How Does Telehealth Work In Australia?, Finder, viewed 9th March 2021,<https://www.finder.com.au/telehealth#:~:text=Telehealth%20is%20a%20term%20used%20to%20describe%20any,new%20exercises,%20these%20would%20both%20be%20considered%20telehealth>.