As Jack Plotkin writes in his newest article, telehealth has evolved significantly over the years but it definitely still has a ways to go before it becomes an everyday occurrence. At one point, it was simply done over the phone during half-hour sessions. The patients would answer a handful of yes/no questions and this would give the doctors some sort of idea of what they were dealing with. The problem with this process, however, is the fact that, because they were not there in person, they weren’t able to run any test on patients or take their blood pressure so they could better understand their current physical condition. In recent years, however, technology has advanced to the point where telehealth is a much more viable option.
Nowadays, they have handheld devices that can record your biometrics and transmit that information to the doctors who need it. Of course, there are still obstacles to overcome with this process. For one thing, most of these telehealth systems don’t provide the doctors with access to the medical records of the patient they are attempting to treat rendering it nigh impossible to correlate their current condition with their own medical history. Additionally, there are plenty of nursing calling centers out there who also find themselves ill-equipped to handle these telehealth appointments because they also lack basic access to these electronic medical records.
As Jack Plotkin is quick to point out, the only way to ensure the system works for everyone is to grant the doctors and nurses access to these EMRs whenever they need it. Of course, they are currently working on a new platform called Ultra Health which should rectify the situation but, even if they do, there is still the issue of cost to consider. None of these procedures are currently being covered by Medicare, Medicaid or any private insurance companies and these procedures tend to get pretty expensive. However, if we can make these procedures more affordable and not beholden to the whim of insurance providers, telehealth can finally become a mainstream alternative to visiting the doctor’s office for a checkup.