May 3, 2017
Obviously, there’s quite a buzz in the medical field around telehealth – it is an emerging approach and it seems every day someone is publishing something about its efficacy and debating whether it is as good as a face to face meeting. Our clinical group will be publishing a blog soon on this very topic in our “We Believe” series. Today I’m going to approach the topic from a different angle.
There is a false premise underlying the question “Which is better, meeting the clinician in person or via telehealth?” The question presumes the possibility of meeting a specific clinician in person. While it is certainly possible that someone would use telehealth as a means to interact with a local clinician, that is not the only, nor the most powerful, use of the tool.
The larger impact is allowing people access to clinicians that they cannot meet with in person. It allows interaction with clinical experts, regardless of where the experts live relative to the person in need. For example, there are lots of areas of the country where the population density is low so the access to medical professionals, particularly highly specialized clinicians, is scarce if available at all.
This can be exacerbated when something causes a temporary influx of people who need access to care. We saw that in North Dakota when there was an oil drilling boom that brought in a large number of workers from across the country, but the local professionals could not scale to handle the demand.
In our business, the use of telehealth allows us to leverage expertise more effectively to meet our customers’ needs. If you’ve been following our “We Believe” blog series you’ve read about the positive impact of an active network. It’s really quite simple. We all know the more you do something, the better you are at doing it. So, we use telehealth to overcome geographical barriers and allow our network to be more active, and thus more skilled, than otherwise would be possible.