First Ever Telehealth Awareness Week Is September 19 through 25
Merck Manuals, a comprehensive online medical reference, has updated its section on “Making the Most of a Healthcare Visit” with a timely discussion about using telemedicine in advance of the first annual Telehealth Awareness Week.
A recurring point made in the expanded essay is that with all healthcare visits, preparation is critical to making them productive. In the case of telemedicine sessions, simple checks include making sure your internet access is functioning, reviewing the latest information in your online patient portal, and uploading relevant images.
“The rise of telehealth has transformed the healthcare arena,” said Michael R. Wasserman, M.D., Merck Manuals editorial board member and contributor of the new content related to telemedicine. “While there may be no substitute for an in-person office visit with a clinician, telemedicine clearly serves as a beneficial supplement to traditional patient care.”
Telehealth Awareness Week, organized by the American Telemedicine Association, runs from September 19 through September 25. Telehealth, an umbrella term for delivering health services and information using digital methods, includes telemedicine, which specifically refers to the provision of clinical care remotely.
What We Have Learned
Takeaways about what the pandemic has taught us about telemedicine follow.
The necessities of the pandemic have made telemedicine feasible for a larger portion of the population (those who may not have deemed themselves technologically savvy enough to conduct a telemedicine session have found new confidence in their ability after months of videoconferencing with friends and family).
Telemedicine improves access to care (for example, for those who don’t have reliable transportation, live in rural or remote areas, or have mobility issues).
Telemedicine enhances patient care (for example, by making routine and follow-up visits more convenient).
It is family friendly (parents need not arrange for childcare).
It can improve workplace productivity for both doctors and patients (by reducing the number of appointment cancellations and no-show patients, as well as decreasing the time patients take away from their work day).
It eliminates waiting room time (a consistent complaint among patients).
Telemedicine supports broad public health goals (such as mitigating the spread of infectious diseases and providing expanded options for chronic disease management).
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