Everyone has felt the impacts of the ongoing pandemic, and therapy providers are no exception. Therapists in a range of specialties had a choice to make early on; they could either continue seeing patients in office and risk exposure to the virus or switch to remote care. Many offices made the choice to adopt telehealth instead of continuing in-person appointments. Some special appointments still require in-person visits, but the vast majority of therapy offices are now using telehealth to see patients. Telehealth is a relatively new practice, but it is already proving incredibly valuable and beneficial for patients and providers. There are numerous benefits to telehealth, some of which are not obvious upon first look. Here is everything you need to know about telehealth, how it works, and how it can help you even after the pandemic ends.
What Is Telehealth Therapy
In the simplest terms, telehealth is when you can see and talk to your provider with a video call over the Internet instead of seeing them in their standard office. There is no universal telehealth app or method as each office can choose which method they want to use. Most telehealth apps are HIPAA compliant, integrated with practice management software so your information is safely stored with your provider, and focus on security so you can feel comfortable discussing sensitive medical issues. You can typically choose between a video call or a voice call, as most telehealth apps accommodate both. If you are uncomfortable with your provider’s chosen telehealth service, you should talk with them to find a different method. A standard phone call is a low-tech option that is still considered telehealth because you are receiving remote care from your provider.
How Does Telehealth Therapy Work
Telehealth still follows the traditional appointment-based schedule as in-person appointments. You talk with your provider or office staff to set an appointment date and time. Whether you set your appointment over a phone call, email, portal request, or other means, your appointment will be through a designated app or service. When it is time for your appointment, ensure you have an Internet connection, open the app, and follow the instructions to connect with your provider. Some apps send unique login links, while others use individual accounts or email login. If you have never used a telehealth app before, take the time to get comfortable with it before your appointment. You do not want to miss out on appointment time because you were fighting with the app.
Benefits of Telehealth Therapy
Telehealth sprung up in response to the pandemic as in-person appointments were not safe anymore, but it provides more benefits than just social distancing. Telehealth lets you see your provider from anywhere with an Internet connection, so you do not need to drive to and from an office. You can pop into your appointment from home and then continue your day immediately after; no need to factor in transportation time or costs with telehealth. The lack of transportation is a massive benefit for people who live far away from their provider or rely on public transit. With telehealth, distance is no longer a reason to lack access to care and is a significant reason telehealth will likely stick around even after the pandemic ends.
Telehealth is particularly important during this pandemic. You could see your provider in their office, but that means your provider and office staff are risking exposure all day. Even with appropriate masks, the office would have to be cleaned, and everyone would have to navigate social distancing guidelines. It is simply safer to use telehealth during this pandemic. However, this idea will extend past the pandemic as sick patients or those with compromised immune systems could use telehealth even once in-person visits are safe again.
Most patients are highly satisfied with telehealth and appreciate the flexibility the system provides. You can take a telehealth session on your lunch break in your car instead of having to take time off for an appointment. You can choose where you want to be for your session, so you are always comfortable talking to your provider. Many telehealth apps also include a messaging system so you can text your provider with quick or urgent questions, which only adds to the flexibility options.
During these times, where the world is stressful and unknown, therapy can be invaluable. The pandemic may have closed most in-person therapy visits, but telehealth solves that problem. Telehealth therapy lets you see your provider anywhere you want through an app or service. Take advantage of telehealth’s many benefits and take care of yourself by safely talking with your provider.