Telehealth services, such as virtual computer consultations with medical providers and mobile apps that link patients to live doctors, are growing in popularity as people are increasingly drawn to the convenience, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of long distance health care via technology.
“Just a few years ago, when patients had symptoms, they could either call their doctors, go to emergency rooms, or tough it out at home. Now options for care designed for consumer convenience are mounting,” according to an article from U.S. News and World Report, which featured American Well, a telehealth service that is available directly to consumers.
Anyone can download an app at americanwell.com, enroll, choose from a panel of physicians and talk to a doctor nearly immediately,” the U.S. News article states. “Using smart phones, tablets or web browsers, people with common symptoms like sore throats, or who need quick advice in ongoing care for chronic conditions, or even those looking for support in kicking the cigarette habit can have a virtual face-to-face with the board certified primary care physician of their choice.”
American Well’s platform has been largely used for primary care issues like the flu, rashes, headaches, migraines, UTIs, bronchitis, pneumonias, and pediatric issues, American Well CEO Dr. Roy Schoenberg told MobiHealthNews. Increasingly more people with chronic conditions are using the video visits to check-in on a particular symptom to see if it is something they can take care of on their own with the “arsenal of medications” they already have at home, or if they should visit a healthcare facility, Schoenberg said.
The value of telehealth is twofold, according to the National Care Planning Council: a.) Nurses can be more alert to patients’ current needs and address these needs in a more timely manner than ever before; b.) Patients who receive telehealth interventions can receive more comprehensive management, leading to more rapid stabilization and, ideally, learn how to become more competent in self-management skills (learning self-management being the most cost effective home health service interaction of all).