Telehealth is the future—and the future has arrived
By Pilar Arrieta, CST Staff Member
Long distance communication has always been a part of human civilization. From the earliest days of drums and horns to fire, light, and smoke signals, communication has evolved to benefit us. Since the late 50’s and early 60’s medical technology has thrusted forward with advancements in transmission of video, images, and complex medical data. These advancements opened the medical field to the global stage. Now, we can have a doctor’s appointment anywhere in the world with a click of a button and in the comfort of our homes with telehealth (1).
I had my first-hand experience with telemedicine2 in early May 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Aleyda Borge, an Internist, located in Cooper City, Florida has been my primary care doctor for the past 25 years. She is an excellent doctor, and always makes sure to have a personal connection with her patients. I’ve always been amazed by her personal touch even after all these years, to this day she is the one who calls me to give me my lab results.
At the start of my telemedicine (2) appointment, I was hesitant and a little uncomfortable with the thought of seeing my doctor via video and not in person. As a Latina, face-to-face communication plays a major part of how we build trust with doctors, lawyers, insurance agents, etc. It’s a high culture cue of who we are. We tend to fear what we do not know but I decided to give it a try. This is the future of medicine and I need to evolve with it. I scheduled my appointment with Dr. Borge, and I was surprised that in less than 30 minutes I received the link with the information on how to connect with her. With just a click of a button, I was face to face with my doctor. I didn’t have to get in my car, drive or get stuck in traffic, and then sit in a waiting room to be called in. The whole process from start to finish was quick, easy, and from the comfort of my own home, overall a great experience.
As my appointment came to an end, I began to think about my mother-in-law and my father and the challenges navigating this new technology can have on the elderly or folks who are not tech savvy. I asked Dr. Borge a few questions about her experience using telemedicine.
She told me that there are some challenges in using telemedicine with patients who are not tech savvy; but she was very grateful that a lot of her patients have family members and friends who are willing to help. Dr. Borge emphasized that education is key. She believes that enrolling in basic computer courses will be a great way to bridge the technology gap. Bridging the culture gap will require building trust over-time, and this is where patient and provider need to exercise patience and honesty.
With challenges also come great benefits for her patients. The flexibility of telemedicine allows people who cannot take off work or are unable to leave their homes the ability to receive proper health care from the doctor they know and trust. Dr. Borge believes that the future of medical communication has arrived.
Telehealth refers to a wide range of services used to deliver healthcare virtually. It acts as an umbrella term for the different services within the field.
This term most commonly describes two-way, real-time conferencing between the doctor and patient, or between two providers. It can be used by a physician seeking a remote consult from a specialist in another location, or by a patient seeking a virtual “visit” with their doctor or nurse.