Today, more patients turn to telehealth. Jill Hill is one of the people whose lives have been positively impacted by telehealth. She lives in Grass Valley, which is a rural area that is outside of Sierra Nevada, California. She has had several financial and medical setbacks ever since her husband passed away in 2014.
Jill knew that she needed therapy to deal with the underlying issues. However, it was difficult to find a rural health care center that offered mental health services. She later found out that she eligible to get two video counseling sessions per week via Medical.
At first, Jill thought that is seemed impersonal. However, she was willing to give anything a try. She sets in a small private room and talks to her counselor via video. It is a lot like a traditional therapy session.
A lack of availability in one’s area is one of the reasons that many patients turn to telehealth. It is estimated that 25 percent of people who live in a rural area have used some type of telehealth service within the last year. Fourteen percent of people received a diagnosis from a telehealth service. Fifteen percent of people received a diagnosis or treatment over the phone.
Jill feels lucky. She knows that telehealth is typically not offered by rural health care facilities. This means that people would have to rely on their own internet to get the health care that they need. However, 20 percent of people who live in a rural area have difficulty getting high-speed internet.
Robert J. Blendon is the co-director of the NPR poll. He is also a professor at Harvard Chan School. He stated that even though telehealth has increased healthcare access to many people, rural areas have been left behind. It is a lot harder for people to get in touch with their physicians and fill prescriptions without having to go to the office.
James Marcin works at the UC Davis Children’s Hospital. He offers consultation via telemonitor. He is able to give diagnosis and write prescriptions without the patient coming to the office.
In the past, many of his patients would drive a long distance just to get care. Thanks to telehealth, people no longer have to make the long drive to get health care. This helps them save money on their health care. It also helps them save time.
Even though Jill was initially skeptical of online therapy, she is happy that she started it. She has been going to therapy for a few months and has noticed a major difference. Her therapist gives her homework assignments, which have helped her improve her life.
Mei Knowng is an attorney who works for the Connected Health Policy in Sacramento. He stated that telehealth services have a lot of room for improvement. He hopes that the barriers will be removed, and more people will get access to health care.
There is a great demand for telehealth services in rural areas. Many of these areas do not have any telehealth specialists. Changes are being made to get more health insurance policies to cover telehealth. However, there is still a long way to go.