Chief Innovation officer
Dr. Yohann White is a medical doctor who focuses on vaccines and conditions affecting the immune system.
TeleHealth has been a low-cost and high-yield benefit that some employers have allowed their valued workers, empowering them in a new way. A number of organisations have gone great lengths to make their employees and clients safe from COVID-19 in the workplace, providing educational sessions, regular communication of preventive measures, sanitisation, enabling access to testing, and work-shift and team arrangements that minimize risk of spread to the whole workforce. But even with access to testing for COVID-19, imagine getting a complicated lab result in your email inbox. What if the result isn’t what you expected? Based on the fact that you know you had a high risk exposure and yet your result is negative, does this truly mean that you are free from infection and it is safe to be around your loved ones and coworkers?
In addition to helping patients understand their lab results and their current risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, an encounter with a healthcare provider by TeleHealth is an opportunity to get a check-up on your general health and well-being. It provides an opportunity to talk about whether the stress and irritability and fatigue you’ve been feeling lately have been going on for too long, and is an opportunity to get guidance on how to cope. TeleHealth is used by physicians, mental health professionals, dieticians and wellness coaches. Alongside occupational health monitoring and feedback to protect you and your coworkers, what is discussed with your provider is kept confidential. TeleHealth from an employer is a nice little gift that keeps on giving, and an inexpensive investment in your team members with positive returns for them and for the organisation as a whole.
Open line of communication
It takes a whole team and systems to ensure an effective and pleasant TeleHealth experience. There is specific technology that allows a secure connection between the provider and patients, record keeping, customer service support, issuing of prescriptions and liaising with pharmacies, and coordinating with laboratories for any required tests. One of the most important aspects is having follow-up where providers check in on their clients and can be contacted if a patient does not seem to be improving. Additionally, providers educate clients about when to seek emergency care, as there are situations for which TeleHealth will not be appropriate such as dealing with emergency situations. When an actual hands-on physical examination is necessary, this can be seamlessly arranged for a visit to provider’s medical office or to a nearby clinic with a simple referral note from the provider. Because of the absence of the physical touch and interaction between provider and client, providers do well to listen keenly to get a full picture of the patient’s condition and life, and to provide them clear guidance on the ‘what if’ questions and anxieties that clients will naturally have. Whether it’s helping clients decide whether the COVID-19 vaccine is right for them, or renewing prescriptions for chronic medical conditions, nutritional advice, or stress management, TeleHealth is about a refreshing bond and access to your provider.
The Future of Telehealth
McKinsey & Co., the world’s leading consulting firm, estimates that TeleHealth use has increased nearly 40 times that of the pre-COVID-19 era, and accounts for 1 in 10 annual wellness visits between April 2020 and present. Up to 50% of stress-related visits with a psychologist or psychiatrist were done by TeleHealth. According to McKinsey, investment by venture capitalists in Telehealth is now double what it was in 2019.
Not only does Telehealth facilitate access to a broad cadre of health professionals, including physicians and non-physicians, Telehealth provides an opportunity to expand access to health and wellness. More than likely, providers and consumers will move back and forth between virtual and physical health visits depending on their desires and what’s happening around them at the time. It can be a cost-effective screening tool that negates a potentially more costly physical visit, and can be used to facilitate check-in or closer monitoring of patients recently discharged from a health facility or after a recent physical visit. It is hoped that government regulators and private insurers will recognise the utility of Telehealth in enabling access to health scare, including prevention, and the subsequent enhanced productivity of workforces, ultimately reduced costs to insurers, and healthier workforces, families and communities.