Telehealth: The Good vs the Bad

woman sitting on sofa while looking at phone with laptop on lap

“True health care reform cannot happen in Washington. It has to happen in our kitchens, in our homes, in our communities. All health care is personal.”

– Mehmet Oz

When COVID made its grand debut back in early 2020, no one was sure how serious of an issue it was going to be. That is until there was a massive shortage of things like milk, bread and toilet paper (in my area it was a complete wipeout). But no one expected the breadth of things to come until people’s personal health and medical treatment were on the line.

Enter Telehealth.

When people couldn’t get to their doctor or get their prescriptions, one thing came to the rescue and that was Telehealth: a new age method to attend one’s doctor’s appointments from the comfort of their homes. This definitely is more convenient for everyone and has its perks, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t downsides, right? With a little research I came up with what I believe are the positives and negatives to Telehealth appointments.

As someone who has at least one doctor’s appointment a month, a personal curiosity sort of drove me to think about this “issue”. There are many of both, but does the good outweigh the bad? My need for immediate gratification led me to making a list which I’m about break down.

One of the pros is obviously the convenience factor. Now we don’t have to waste gas or even leave the couch. We don’t even have to shower or bathe! It’s definitely a positive in the eyes of most. And I get it.

On the same token, you can’t have Telehealth appointments that require physical therapy, labs, or bloodwork. So, you’re not completely off the hook when it comes to attending all appointments.

Another helpful part of Telehealth appointments is that they lower the risk of spreading COVID and other illnesses. This, of course, is helpful both now and when the virus was king. Even if most illnesses are just even the slightest bit contagious, a Telehealth appointment is probably the safer route to take.

I think a real downfall to the era of Telehealth is the requirement to have internet and smart phone, tablet, or a computer. For many people I know this is what hinders them seeking out medical treatment.

Below is a more comprehensive list of the pros and cons.

PROS OF TELEHEALTH APPOINTMENT:

  • Safety, comfort, and convenience of your own home
  • No increase in potential COVID-19 exposure from leaving home.
  • Able to continue PT safely even if you have significant risk factors or are at high risk for COVID-19 exposure
  • No additional time/expense of commuting or parking
  • No need to wear face masks during exercise
  • Breathing exercises can be performed safely and freely without the barrier of a face mask
  • Therapist/patient communication may be easier without face masks
  • PT can guide patient on exercises or recommended self-treatment techniques while patient is in their own home/workspace in real-time.
  • Convenient when childcare is limited or unavailable

CONS OF TELEHEALTH APPOINTMENT

  • Some patients may feel more distracted or have limited privacy at home
  • No hands-on procedures/manual therapy techniques by PT
  • Muscle and soft tissue assessment may be limited virtually
  • Patient must adjust screen position during session to allow PT to view movements and positions
  • Potential technological/wi-fi difficulties can limit connection at times

So, does the good outweigh the bad? I’ll leave the ball in your court.

When COVID made its grand debut back in early 2020, no one was sure how serious it was going to be. That is until there was a massive shortage of things like milk, bread and toilet paper (in my area it was a complete wipeout). But no one expected the breadth of things to come until people’s personal health and medical treatment were on the line.

4 Comments

  1. I think telehealth is a good option to have available, but I think it gets to be a problem when it’s all that’s available. The level of quality of the care I got dropped significantly with the switch to telehealth. I also don’t like talking on the phone in general, so that didn’t help matters at all.

  2. I prefer in-person appointments, but I live in a tiny town and it takes me five minutes to get to the doctor. I think if I was in a city environment and a trip included traffic, parking fees and long waits in the waiting room, telehealth would be the way to go.

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