Healthcare from a Distance: What is Telehealth?
Lauren Dickerson Pharm.D. Candidate 2020 & Amanda Bektas, Pharm.D.
Healthcare is always changing, and some doctors, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals now offer services virtually, either by telephone or video conferencing. You may have heard terms like telehealth and telemedicine used to describe this remote service. Even though they are commonly used interchangeably, telehealth and telemedicine are not the same. Telehealth is a broad term used to describe any healthcare-related meeting that is conducted remotely. This means administrative meetings, provider trainings, and clinical services provided remotely qualify as telehealth. Telemedicine, however, refers to any remote clinical service provided to patients.
You may be less familiar with telepharmacy, which refers to the clinical services a pharmacist provides remotely. These services can include things like Medication Therapy Management (MTM), Chronic Care Management (CCM), patient counseling, disease state management, and Transitions of Care (TOC) services. Telepharmacy can improve a patient’s understanding of their medications, prevent hospitalizations, decrease healthcare costs, and improve medication adherence.
If you haven’t had a chance to “tele-visit” with one of your providers yet or feel nervous about testing out this new technology, just remember…
· You can set up a time for the appointment when you can speak privately and comfortably from your own home
· Because you do not have to go into an office there is no added time for travel or sitting in the waiting room. This also means less potential exposure to illness or infection!
· It can be more convenient and less stressful to go over a written list of questions or concerns when you have a virtual appointment. You can set up your questions, medications, and blood pressure or glucose logs ahead of time and even have a trusted person like a family member or caregiver take notes for you during the visit.
Sometimes your healthcare provider may want you to schedule an in-person visit for certain kinds of physical examinations, lab work, or procedures. But don’t put off having a virtual visit because you suspect this might be the case! Letting your doctor know about changes in your health condition or new concerns as soon as possible can make a huge difference in your health outcomes.
On the other hand, some kinds of visits with a healthcare provider might be easier, more convenient, and safer to have virtually. A comprehensive medication review with a clinical pharmacist or a check-in to follow up on changes to your medication regimen or disease state management plan are prime examples.
Ask your healthcare providers about which visits you might be able to have virtually. You might be pleasantly surprised! A Consana pharmacist can call you for a telepharmacy visit where they go over each of your medicines in detail and answer any questions or concerns you might have. This type of visit ensures that you are satisfied with your medicines, taking them safely, and a healthier you, without you ever leaving home.
Baldoni S, et al. Telepharmacy Services: Present Status and Future Perspectives: A Review. Medicina (Kaunas). 2019 Jul 1;55(7). pii: E327. doi: 10.3390/medicina55070327. Accessed 4/30/20.
What is telehealth? How is telehealth different from telemedicine?. HealthIT.gov website. https://www.healthit.gov/faq/what-telehealth-how-telehealth-different-telemedicine. October 17, 2019. Accessed 4/30/20.