Before the pandemic, only about 13,000 Medicare beneficiaries used telehealth services in an average week. By April of 2020, that number had skyrocketed to about 1.7 million per week. The surge happened when Medicare relaxed telehealth regulations to help people to safely manage their health care needs during the lockdown.
Telehealth uses technology to virtually connect patients with health care providers using a smartphone, tablet, or computer with apps like FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, and MyChart. It is a great option for anyone who just needs to check in with their provider to monitor chronic health issues like high blood pressure or diabetes. Telehealth is also well-suited for mental health visits, wellness care, and nutrition counseling.
Telehealth is not for emergencies. Patients who suddenly experience chest pains, mental confusion, or other serious symptoms should head directly to a hospital emergency room.
Some patients have come to prefer virtual visits. For them, telehealth means they don’t have to venture out in bad weather or sit in a waiting room where they may be exposed to dangerous contagions.
Others feel stymied by the often-problematic technical challenges inherent in video conferencing. (Just watch any TV news program interviewing guests remotely and you’ll see how gremlins can confound even the most tech-savvy.)
Tips for getting ready for your telehealth appointment
If you are new to telehealth, your provider will explain what you need to do before your first virtual visit. This may include downloading a specific app, e-signing documents like HIPPA consent forms, and filling out a pre-visit online questionnaire. If you need assistance with the technology, the medical office should be able to help. Here are a few other helpful tips to keep in mind:
- Schedule any lab tests or X-rays before your telehealth appointment so you can discuss the results with your provider.
- Effective telehealth relies on good communication so make a list of your health concerns before your visit.
- When it’s time for your appointment, be prepared to wait. Just like their in-person counterparts, telehealth providers often run late.
Expect quality healthcare at Erickson Senior Living
While telehealth has been around for more than 30 years, it took the pandemic to bring this health care innovation into the mainstream, and from the looks of it, telehealth is here to stay.
At Erickson Senior Living communities, making sure residents are taken care of is our first priority. Request a brochure for your preferred location to learn more about our health and well-being services.