So many Americans had their first telehealth experience during the COVID-19 pandemic, and for many reasons, I think telehealth is here to stay. Patients have discovered its benefits, and as we say at the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), “the genie is out of the bottle.”
Wylecia Wiggs Harris, Ph.D.
CAE, CEO, American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)
While some medical appointments are better suited for in-office visits, telehealth offers numerous benefits. Here are five:
1. Reaching the underserved
People who live in areas far from medical providers can now meet with one without traveling. And telehealth is beneficial for people who don’t drive or don’t have easy access to transportation.
2. Providers are familiar with telehealth
Many doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals have lots of experience with telehealth, and patients are often surprised how similar a telehealth visit is to an in-person appointment.
3. Reducing exposure
At this point, we’re all familiar with the importance of avoiding exposure to viruses. During cold and flu season, or any time of the year, there are obvious benefits of having fewer people in a provider’s waiting room and office.
4. Remote monitoring
Telehealth makes it easier for providers to monitor patients with chronic conditions and it limits the number of times those patients must travel to the doctor’s office.
5. Making appointments easier
Life happens and things come up; I’m sure most of us have had to cancel a medical appointment at the last minute. Only needing to pick up a phone or open your laptop makes it easier to meet with a provider, which reduces cancelations and benefits our healthcare system as a whole.
I’m proud AHIMA recently released a policy statement that says we support “the use of public policy and other tools to expand access to care, reduce costs, and improve convenience for patients by using telehealth and remote patient monitoring technologies.”
I believe our members — health information professionals — have the knowledge and experience to contribute to the development of public policy around telehealth so patients can continue to experience its benefits.