Although telehealth/e-visits were legitimate options prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, most patients and professionals opted for in-person meetings. Since March 2020, the prevalence of telehealth appointments has skyrocketed, and in some places, it is the only option to get care from a medical professional. With this widespread adoption of a completely different way of seeing patients, there have certainly been challenges, and one that affects a variety of medical professionals.
Difficulty in Connecting with Patients
It’s an unavoidable fact that having a barrier of technology prevents the connections that normally occur in a professional-patient relationship. Treating and diagnosing a patient via phone or video removes the ability to physically connect, and for many, the “connection” that exists in telehealth appointments is superficial. It is also less personable and can feel like a negative, unfulfilling experience for all parties. Telehealth appointments are sometimes considered to be less valid because they are believed to rely on informed guesses rather than close physical examination of the possible medical issue. This does not apply for all appointments, certainly, but many patients wonder how a medical professional could diagnose a broken bone, for example, without examining it in person. This can make a patient less likely to schedule an appointment if they feel the care they receive is less valid through phone or video.
The Hurdle of Technology
For patients who have difficulties using technology, or don’t have the equipment that is required to attend a telehealth appointment, the ease of making and attending a medical appointment is severely complicated in ways that were non-existent prior to the widespread usage of telehealth and e-visits. There is also the simple fact that telehealth appointments have a greater propensity to be canceled if there are various technological issues such as power outages or malfunctions with the computer/phone. This would be a rare occurrence for in-person meetings. In some ways having appointments “easily” accessible via video or phone benefits many patients, but for many patients who are lower-income, do not have housing, and only are able to attend appointments in person, the hurdle of technology is quite literally an impossible one.
As conditions in the pandemic change, there will likely be a time where telehealth appointments revert to less common usage as it was before; until then, it’s beneficial to understand the challenges of these appointments on certain patients and be conscientious of these issues.
Williams & Nickl has represented many physicians who face issues with IDFPR. If you find yourself in such a situation, Williams & Nickl can provide the help you need.