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  • Writer's pictureMark Roberts

Health Talk with a Doc

Let's face it. Sometimes getting sick doesn't follow a calendar or a clock. Your interruption in life caused by illness often comes at the most inconvenient times - after hours, weekend, traveling, and more. And what about when your kids get sick, and your family doctor or pediatrician's office is closed. If the health situation is not life-threatening, but you or your child are not feeling well at all, your options are either go to urgent care, or the ER if you need immediate attention. Either of those solutions can be expensive and scary.


Using telemedicine as a way of using a healthcare tool that enables video or phone appointments between a patient and their health care practitioner, and provides benefits of both health and convenience. More health care providers are offering to “see” patients by computer and smartphone. Either a video conference or a phone call can be used by the medical practitioner to diagnose a possible solution to the case.


With telemedicine, you don’t have to drive to the doctor’s office or clinic, park, walk or sit in a waiting room when you’re sick, according to johns Hopkins Medicine. You can see your doctor from the comfort of your own bed or sofa. Virtual visits can be easier to fit into your busy schedule. With telemedicine, depending on your schedule, you may not even have to take leave time from work or arrange for child care (https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/benefits-of-telemedicine).


In the 30 plus years that telehealth has been in-use, it has been consistently shown to be a safe and quality care modality, a convenient option for both patients and the clinicians who care for them, and a secure environment for the collection and transmission of personal health information. In combination, these attributes extend where and how care is delivered for a stronger healthcare system, according to the American Telemedicine Association (https://www.americantelemed.org/resource/why-telemedicine/).


Telehealth and virtual care can increase access to care for rural communities, underserved and vulnerable patient populations, and to individuals unable to secure in-person care, ensuring that everyone has access to safe, effective, and appropriate care when and where they need it. For example, telehealth can support access to high-quality, safe, and convenient care for older adults, allowing individuals to “age-in-place” and connect with a provider regularly. Telehealth also improves efficiencies, helps to reduce costs, and enables healthcare providers and hospital systems to do more good for more people.


According to the American Medical Association (AMA), physicians and health care organizations are using telehealth in innovative ways that amount to wins for patients, their families and the nation:


  • Deliver high quality psychiatrict care to more patients with mental illness.

  • Help private physicians flourish with more patient access to care.

  • Extend pre-natal care to underserved rural areas.

  • Provide access to care for seniors with mobility issues.

  • Offer live-saving care for patients with opioid use disorder.

  • Enable neurologists to offer convenient care to handicapped individuals.


it seems as though every day offers more evidence of how telemedicien can helpimprove access to care, save lives and advance the quality of care in a wide array of physician specialties and clinical conditions. (https://www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/digital/7-ways-telehealth-reshaping-medicine-better).


According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), telemedicine also has several unique uses for the practice of travel medicine. For instance, telemedicine can be used as an alternative to the in-person pretravel consultation. Moreover, travelers can use telemedicine to maintain continuity of care for existing conditions, enabling them to travel farther and longer by extending the interval between in-person visits. Notably, travelers who develop acute illnesses or injuries, have exacerbations of existing conditions, experience high-risk exposures, or need to seek medical advice while abroad can use telemedicine platforms to discuss issues with a trusted provider.


In the United States, each state has its own telemedicine laws and regulations, most of which address reimbursement issues (e.g., informing providers and insurance carriers which telemedicine services are reimbursed) but not the practice of telemedicine. Therefore, providers must perform due diligence to ensure that they conduct telemedicine encounters in accordance with the laws and regulations applicable in their local jurisdiction. The CDC provides access to a signifant number of online telemedicine resources (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2024/preparing/telemedicine).


One key trend found in 2023 is the growth in telemedicine for mental health issues. According to statistics, by the third quarter of 2023, 37% of mental health visits took place virtually, followed by infectious disease, obstetrics, and transplant.  Unfortunately, mental health disorders are becoming more and more common and there is a lack of medical professionals to treat millions of people who require care. Solely in the United States, one in five adults reported having an unmet need in regard to mental health while telehealth helps to address this problem by providing accessible and effective mental health and substance use care, according to HealthRun Insider.


Telemedicine helps patients avoid substance-related disorders, anxiety, and depression. By facilitating regular check-ins, therapeutic sessions, and real-time monitoring, telemedicine becomes a key driver in preventing the escalation of substance-related disorders and mental health challenges. The accessibility and convenience of virtual appointments dismantle traditional barriers to seeking help, fostering a supportive environment for individuals to address concerns before they intensify.


Telemedicine is effective for any disorder that does not necessitate laboratory exams or physical exams. This technology provides continuing treatment for healthcare including psychotherapy. Telemedicine is now used in medical areas such as dermatology, mental health, medicine, and cardiology to deliver improved treatment to populations underserved by doctors and clinics, according to the National Library of Medicine (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8590973/#:~:text=Telemedicine%20is%20effective%20for%20any,can%20also%20achieve%20better%20treatment).


It is often thought to be a way to minimise significantly the expense of treating health problems such as asthma, diabetes, and sleep apnea, which benefit from continuous observation of a patient's condition. Telemedicine technology in recovery tackles these problems in various areas, including performing cognitive or psychiatric assessments, leading group counselling meetings, supplying patients with internet services, and remotely observing patients. For example, this technology will help people recover from lung disease by undergoing video therapy sessions and supervised physical recovery at a local satellite site.


Telemedicine has expanded as well into other areas including dental care, veterinarian, and healthcare mentoring. Telemedicine/Telehealth has evolved from a concierge convenience for private insurance companies into an essential tool for increasing access to care and improving health equity, according to Penn State Social Science Research Institute. (https://evidence2impact.psu.edu/resources/improving-access-to-health-care-the-challenges-potential-of-telehealth-telementoring/).


Telemedicine has come a very long way over the past 10 years, and specifically since early 2020 due to the advent of the Covid pandemic. There are new technological advances being made to provide better access to healthcare and providers, and the laws are continuing to be updated to allow more flexibility to use telemedicine as a mainstream field of care for both children and adults.


There are several telemedicine plans available on this website: https://www.careingdentalgroup.com/telemedicine. Check out the affordable options including mental health and standard health programs.



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