Here at We ❤ Health Literacy Headquarters, we’re big fans of both preventative health care and preventing the spread of COVID-19. So these days, dear readers, we really ❤ telehealth. According to the CDC, 4 in 10 US adults have avoided health care due to concerns about COVID-19. That’s, well, worrying. People need routine health care, pandemic or not, and telehealth allows them to get it with zero worry. too contracting COVID during their visit.
As health communicators, we can educate our audience about telehealth and encourage them to try it. Let’s start with a simple definition for newbies. Telehealth, sometimes called telemedicine or virtual visit, is basically health care at a distance. If you use a computer, phone, or tablet to visit a doctor, that’s telehealth.
And while telehealth certainly can’t replace it all in-person visits, it’s a great option for things like:
- Annual checkups with your primary care physician
- Dermatology visits
- Mental health counseling
- Nutrition counseling
- Follow-up visits to share test results
Once you’ve covered the basics, highlight some of the key benefits of telehealth:
- It’s safer. Right now, telehealth’s main selling point is that it allows people to connect to care without the risk of contracting COVID in a doctor’s office or hospital. Just think of it like social distancing, but with your doctor.
- It’s faster. When you cross the route, the waiting room, the second waiting room (ex. examination room), the visit becomes much shorter and much easier to fit into a busy schedule. And who ever said? “I wish I spent more time sitting in waiting rooms.” That’s right. No one!
- It increases reach. Telehealth is especially useful for people who need to see a specialist but don’t live nearby, and it eliminates the transportation barrier altogether. Many telehealth providers also offer appointments outside of traditional doctor’s hours, making it easier for people to find times that work for them.
So encourage your audience to ask if their doctors offer telehealth and check with their insurance companies to make sure it’s covered.
And finally, while COVID safety won’t be as big of an issue in the future (we certainly hope so), 2 of the 3 benefits above will be around long after the pandemic is over. So while it’s a great tool for keeping people connected to care during COVID, we think telehealth is here to stay.
Bottom line: Encourage your audiences to explore telehealth during and beyond COVID-19.
Tweet about it. #Telehealth is a safe, effective way to receive routine health care during a pandemic and beyond. @CommunicateHlth has tips for explaining the benefits of telehealth to your audiences: https://bit.ly/3sAuk6F #communicateCOVID