What you’re looking for is peace of mind. There’s probably something in the bathroom cabinet to help with the pain, but what you can’t find on your own is an explanation.
You’ve woken with a pain in your stomach. It feels like it’s centered slightly to the left. It’s enough to make you worried, but it doesn’t feel like something that warrants a lengthy wait at the ER. Too bad it’s late enough that your primary care doctor has closed their doors for the night.
But this is the digital age, so time really has lost its traditional hold over us. It may be late on a weeknight, but there’s always someone available online. With a few taps of your smartphone, you can be face-to-face with a medical professional. In just a matter of minutes, you can begin describing your symptoms and be reassured that you’re going to survive the night. And you’ll have an idea about whether you should get an appointment with your family doctor once the physical office opens in the morning.
House calls via telehealth mean it’s never too late to seek medical peace of mind.
Doctors Without Offices
Normal business hours don’t apply anymore. We’ve long been living in a world where internet banking, on-demand movies, and online shopping have removed our need to make it to a shopfront before closing.
Now, through video conferencing, even healthcare is available 24/7. A whole range of smartphone apps and desktop services have arrived over recent years to put us in a face-to-face consultation with a doctor anytime–and anywhere–we need medical advice.
The world of virtual medical apps exists so you never have to take a chance with your health just because you’ve fallen ill at an awkward time of day.
Services such as Instant Consult don’t even have a physical medical clinic to open and close to the rhythm of traditional business hours. Instead, the Australian service and its U.S. counterparts, such as HelloMD and Doctor on Demand, act as a digital network of medical professionals, each working out of their own locations and meeting patients online.
The physicians on Instant Consult can’t perform physical assessments, but they can observe you via a video link, talk through your symptoms and medical history, and provide you with advice–or a referral, a prescription, a medical certificate, or schedule you for pathology or radiology tests.
The world of virtual medical apps exists so you never have to take a chance with your health just because you’ve fallen ill at a traditionally awkward time of day.
Virtual Alternatives to the ER
The availability of telehealth house calls (any medical service delivered remotely over a digital connection can be termed telehealth) is more than just a convenience. Digital delivery of healthcare services has the potential to reduce the strain on understaffed medical facilities and expand the provision of expert services into rural and remote regions that otherwise cannot support major infrastructure.
Just consider that every late-night patient who seeks assistance online is one less person showing up at the emergency room. It has been estimated that 30 percent of ER visits could have been treated at a clinic or by a family doctor. If even a modest number of those non-urgent cases had instead consulted an online platform, the demands on emergency services could decrease dramatically.
Several states are now sponsoring telehealth programs that link rural primary care doctors with major metropolitan facilities.
Conversely, delivering expert medical service via telehealth prevents rural and regional patients from having to make long trips in order to obtain a diagnosis and information. Several states are now sponsoring telehealth programs that link rural primary care doctors with major metropolitan facilities, reversing the ER problem and encouraging people to seek help where normally they’d go untreated. Such services are still held to the same high standards of patient care and privacy as traditional offerings, with video conferencing providers having to follow strict HIPAA guidelines on the handling of sensitive data.
For the average person with a throbbing headache or mysterious back pain, however, the real appeal lies in not having to leave home in order to get basic medical attention.
Who Benefits from House Calls Via Telehealth?
It isn’t just sufferers of unexpected health concerns that stand to benefit from house calls via telehealth services. Remote healthcare can benefit anyone with mobility concerns and help healthcare professionals assess a patient’s living conditions. It stands to benefit the elderly, patients recovering from illness or surgery, first-time parents, anyone transitioning out of long-term care, and patients receiving psychological therapy, among many others.
Every smartphone is an app away from being a video conferencing portal.
There aren’t many technical barriers to accessing telehealth from home. Every smartphone is an app away from being a video conferencing portal, and the highest grades of HD and even 4K resolution, as well as advanced features including facial recognition technology, are available from plug-and-play webcams that cost just a few hundred dollars. While most telehealth providers will use their own video calling platform, connections are available through basic subscription services and require only average internet speeds to deliver imagery that can replicate an in-room consultation.
The convenience of receiving a house call via a telehealth platform is likely to make this the default form of reassurance we seek in the digital age. Why leave the comfort of home when you can have a medical professional visit you online?