Prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus in the U.S., telehealth accounted for 1% of hospital care. Now, healthcare experts say that upwards of 25% of care can be done remotely. As we adapt to a new normal, will telehealth become a staple in the doctor-patient relationship?
One of the main concerns of telehealth is the patients’ ability to access it. Healthcare accessibility alone is a national concern for those in urban communities. Those in rural areas might not have adequate access to technology, let alone the means to find care.
But like any form of digital communication, telehealth faces additional challenges regarding privacy concerns. During COVID-19, HIPPA laws have been relaxed to allow these less secure modes of health communication, such as text messaging, phone calls and video chats.
What this could mean is private health information may be hacked since the information has not been properly encrypted and secured.
The best way to avoid these concerns over privacy is to seek out a provider that has already implemented HIPPA-compliant telehealth options prior to his pandemic. This ensures that healthcare workers are well-versed in using the technology and can help patients feel more comfortable with these options.
When deciding to make a telehealth appointment, concerns over access and privacy are just as important as the reason for the visit. Some of the best candidates for telehealth appointments are established patients with a previous relationship with their doctor, counselling and therapy services, and continuity of care for those with chronic conditions or in rehab.