How does telehealth really compare to in-person health care?

Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the adoption of telehealth services has been on the rise and people are turning to digital technology more than ever to address their personal health care needs without having to leave their homes.

But while many have begun to embrace telehealth offerings as a new way to connect to care and address their personal health needs, myths surrounding what telehealth services are intended for and how they compare to in-office visits continue to prevail.

To help determine how digital care can best meet health care needs during quarantine and beyond, here are the facts behind four common misconceptions about telehealth:

MYTH #1: Telehealth is only for basic or urgent care needs.

FACT: Telehealth can often be the first stop for preventive, primary care and other health and wellness needs. Patients can connect with a doctor or nurse practitioner to receive care for a range of acute, preventive and chronic care needs, including illness and injury, mental health services, and management of conditions like asthma, diabetes and more. Whether patients live in a rural area or simply want an easier way to manage their health, telehealth can adapt to their needs.

MYTH #2: Virtual care isn’t as good as in-person care.

FACT: Telehealth services can offer high-quality, convenient access to care. Much like face-to-face office visits, telehealth visits can facilitate a trusting, open dialogue with a doctor or nurse practitioner. Most providers have a web-based interface or mobile app, making it easy to log onto and use secure, quality video for consultations and to visually help communicate about injuries or conditions.

Telehealth also reduces time spent in waiting rooms and commuting to appointments, putting more power in the hands of patients. It can be particularly valuable for enabling remote monitoring and regular check-ins for patients with chronic conditions.

While telehealth can be a convenient alternative to in-person care, there are still instances where in-person appointments are recommended, such as in the case of a medical emergency. To consider the best option for care needs, check with a doctor.

MYTH #3: Telehealth is too expensive.

FACT: Telehealth and other services can help save money while expanding access to care. When looking for a telehealth provider, it can prove cost-effective to compare options based on pricing, insurance coverage, preferences and services provided. Look for telehealth options that list transparent pricing information to help guide the search.

Telehealth is more accessible than ever as more providers evolve and adapt technologies to meet patient needs at a safe distance. But even as social distancing constrictions lift, digital wellness offerings will present greater flexibility and convenience in meeting individual health care needs.

BPT