Telehealth Is Not Everyone’s First Choice
With regard to telehealth statistics, we saw a great rise in the number of participants during the past year with COVID-19. It was a perfect solution for many people, especially if leaving their homes meant putting them in danger due to their high-risk factors linked to the virus.
Equally interesting were the situations when those same people who were perhaps at risk due to age, were not as willing to embrace an electronic experience as a younger patient might. Familiarity with technology or access to it was definitely going to factor in, but it also might be the not-so-obvious factor of the relationship that exists between two humans. If you’ve been a patient for many years at a healthcare facility, you have likely established a comfortable rhythm with the provider or team that you see at an office for your care. As we all know, healthcare is discussing your most private details with a trusted person, and doing that via a computer screen with a potential stranger might be off-putting to many people.
We also need to consider that for patients who do not speak English as their first language, there are other cues that can be taken from an in-person visit. Translation happens with body language and the ability to better explain when actually face to face.
And it isn’t just about what the patient likes when it comes to healthcare. A recent interview with Windrose Health Network’s CEO Scott Rollett discussed how their clinicians actually preferred in-person, or live shifts as opposed to the telehealth option. He felt it said a lot when they were willing to put their own health at risk to treat people in person. This of course was early on in the pandemic when less was known, but a telling sign nonetheless.
We will know in time how fast and successful the adoption of telehealth is as time goes on. One thing is for sure, it was a great option to have, especially in a time of uncertainty about being public, and as we tried to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.