As effective as telehealth can be, skeptics remain. And perhaps that is as it should be since skepticism is not necessarily a negative thing. Learning to trust new things doesn’t always happen immediately. Who would’ve entrusted all of their family photographs to the first Apple smartphone?
But when we stop and look at the good that we see taking place daily across the United States in telepsychiatry and teleneurology, essential elements remain: virtual healthcare brings with it health equity and empathy. For the patient facing the newness of virtual care, who lacks certainty in evaluations happening through a monitor, trusting a virtual doctor takes an experience or two to build confidence in the unknown.
So how does telehealth express empathy and equity in a virtual setting, one patient at a time?
- Reduced wait time. Telehealth patient care consistently helps patients be seen faster. There is both a reduction in ER wait time, as well as a prompt patient assessment. By consistently reducing the time needed to be seen by a physician, a patient spends far less time waiting in a traditional ER.
- See more patients. Telehealth patient care also assists in the fundamental need to see more patients. This doesn’t mean a virtual physician hurries through an evaluation. It simply means by moving faster and with less distraction found in a typical ER, a virtual physician can consistently evaluate more patients with far fewer delays. This helps patient satisfaction as well as helping move patients at a faster pace through an ER.
- Continuity of care. Telehealth ensures that patients receive quality care, one patient at a time. Even when a patient is in a traditional ER, when virtual care aids patients in need of an evaluation, the patients still remain in the hands of the clinical staff on-site at the ER. Each time a virtual physician evaluates a patient, the physician immediately communicates both the findings and the recommendation to an on-site ER nurse and/or ER doctor. This ensures an effective hand-off back to the on-site clinicians by providing the health assessments are appropriately shared.
Having empathy and providing health equity in properly caring for patients allows virtual physicians to consistently see patients faster and to see more patients overall while rigorously maintaining the continuity of care.
- Jack Williams
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