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: There aren’t any telehealth providers in the area.
FACT: Many trusted local and national health care systems provide telehealth services across the nation. Today, more than half of providers in the United States offer some form of telehealth service, according to an April 22, 2020, Merritt Hawkins survey, “Physician Practice Patterns Changing as a Result of COVID-19.” Additionally, recent government, health system and reimbursement policy changes have improved patient access to telehealth services and are encouraging use as a safe way to access care during the pandemic.
In fact, locating telehealth providers is easier than ever before with platforms like Walgreens.com/FindCareServices, which helps patients access care when and how they need it. Patients can choose from more than 30 telehealth providers treating over 100 conditions, while searching from the comfort of their own home. Available through an app and online, the platform makes it easy to find and compare available providers by location, preference, insurance coverage, services and price.
MYTH #3: 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 #4: 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.
If a consultation requires a prescription, Walgreens also has 24/7 pharmacy chat capabilities through its app and Walgreens.com/SaveOnRX with discounted pricing on a range of medications.
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.