The Future of Telehealth in Medicine and Healthcare: How the Pandemic Changed Virtual Services for Patients and Healthcare Workers

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None of us can predict the future, but we can postulate about what’s to come. The future of telehealth is one thing people are eager to know, and many questions linger around this topic. What’s the future of telehealth medicine? Will virtual visits with my doctor become the norm? Will this affect healthcare workers?

In this article we’ll look at where telehealth is now, where it’s going and what it means for you. 

Where is telehealth right now?

Telehealth, also called teletherapy, has been around for nearly as long as video-conferencing platforms. While it has not always been in widespread usage, the Coronavirus pandemic spurred countless people to try it out, and many have stuck around.

At the beginning of the pandemic, telehealth services had to quickly adapt to a massive influx of users, and efforts were successful overall — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in March 2020, telehealth visits were up by 154 percent compared to the same week the previous year

Rates of people using the web to access healthcare skyrocketed, and many people plan to use these adapted services long after they’re necessary to avoid contagion. 

Currently, 35 percent of Americans would consider permanently replacing visits to a doctor with on-demand virtual healthcare according to the Harris Poll. The poll also found that 48 percent of seniors (65 and older) stated they would use telehealth after the pandemic, and 42 percent of people would likely use a hybrid approach of in-person and virtual care.

Clearly, there is a demand for telehealth now, and projected to be one in the future. So assuming telehealth stays mainstream, what will it look like for both patients and healthcare workers?

What is the future of telehealth for patients?

Telehealth has increased accessibility for individuals and communities around the world and offered incalculable benefits. Telehealth has proven its worth — the only question is, how will it continue to change in years to come?

Here are some advancements patients can expect from their healthcare providers:

  • Increased access to doctors and nurses with flexible scheduling and the ability to meet with a professional who lives farther away
  • Improved patient and provider matching
  • Increased encryption measures (such as two-factor authentication to view health information and to join a video appointment)
  • Paperless forms, billing and results
  • No wait times for appointments
  • Pre and post-appointment forms (such as checking boxes of symptoms to streamline time spent with healthcare workers)
  • Training on using online software such as video conferencing that is offered by a healthcare provider
  • Reduced costs

On the receiving end of telehealth, patients can expect smoother services. It’s highly unlikely that user experiences for these types of appointments will become less satisfactory. These platforms will only improve.

What is the future of telehealth for nursing?

Healthcare workers have been impacted by the quick transition to online services, too. The changes, however, are quite different and will continue to evolve. Here are some adjustments you can expect in the future of telehealth for nursing:

  • Stricter privacy measures for virtual visits
  • An increase in online patient portals for forms and patient information
  • An increasing time demand to assist patients with technical issues or questions about navigating online platforms
  • Decreased ability to take physical measures (such as temperature, weight, etc.) for regular check-ups
  • Assistive programs, such as live translating on video conferencing
  • More encryption software to protect private patient information
  • Increased interaction with technical support staff
  • Increased training for technical equipment

The field of healthcare is ever-improving, and the future of telehealth for nursing and related services will fall into the same rhythm of adapting and advancing. The individuals who can embrace progress will be most equipped to thrive with new changes.

Telehealth moving forward

There’s clear evidence that the future of telehealth in medicine and related services is promising. While online healthcare has changed drastically in the past two years, it’s guaranteed to continue changing, and the changes will aim to make the user experience easier, faster and more effective.


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