Virtual healthcare refers to the use of technology, including telephones, video, mobile apps, text-based messaging, and other communication platforms for the delivery of health services to a patient.
During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, many doctors’ offices were closed, so there was little choice but to delay non-urgent medical appointments. But as it became clear the pandemic would continue dragging on, phone and video-based medical care became a logical alternative to in-person care. These telehealth alternatives worked to provide healthcare services for many people who were confined to their homes due to the pandemic.
Home monitoring of health, such as blood pressure checks or wearable gadgets to monitor heart rate, have become more common and less expensive. As a result, some people can now manage elements of their annual checkup at home, without actually seeing their doctor.
That leads me to wonder: now that healthcare providers’ offices are largely open again, will we all go back to routine in-person visits each year? Or, might your annual check-up include virtual options, such as one or more of these approaches:
A phone or video call to review symptoms and discuss healthcare goals. Afterward, your doctor can order screening tests and plan to review the results by mail, email, or another phone call.
A phone or video call followed by an in-person physical examination at a clinical center where — with your permission — a nurse or physician’s assistant can examine you as your doctor supervises through a video link.
A multidisciplinary video visit that gives you the opportunity to connect with multiple providers. This might include a nutritionist, pharmacist, physical therapist, and mental health expert. Specialty care, such as a cardiologist or lung expert, might be included if needed.
Of course, if a routine visit becomes non-routine — for instance, a screening test shows a concerning abnormality — or if new and bothersome symptoms develop between visits, a traditional in-person visit would likely be the best next step.
The advantages of virtual care
The big advantages of virtual care are:
Convenience. Not having to travel to the doctor’s office, deal with parking, or sit in a waiting room (with other patients who may be sick) is a big deal.
Easier access. When the nearest doctor is hours away, virtual checkups can provide a way to receive high-quality medical care that might not otherwise happen. Virtual care may also allow more frequent check-ins to monitor progress and reassess health goals.
The possibility of real-time multidisciplinary care. Pilot studies of people recovering from COVID-19 and other conditions suggest that such care is feasible, but we’ll need additional research to know if it’s effective and sustainable for routine medical check-ups.
A more relaxed visit. For some, a virtual visit from the comfort of home is much less stressful than the doctor’s office. Some doctors have found that their patients seem more forthcoming about health concerns during virtual visits than they had been in past office visits.
Speedy Sticks now offers virtual healthcare services nationwide. Book your appointment with us today!
*This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant to replace consulting with a healthcare professional. Please consult your primary care physician or healthcare provider before engaging in any services Speedy Sticks offers.