Since embarking on my graduate research study on telehealth in 2011, I have dedicated my career to the expansion of telehealth services in both urban and rural areas of Nevada. This has been an extremely rewarding journey, and I cannot imagine a more exciting time to be in the field of telehealth.
OVERCOMING THE STIGMA
The biggest challenge we seem to run into in telehealth is the stigma that patients and providers may associate with it—many believe the quality of care is reduced if delivered virtually. Luckily, that stigma is beginning to shift with more research and exposure on the effectiveness of digital medicine to deliver high-quality healthcare. Patients are beginning to see the unmatched value telehealth affords them, as it allows them access to top-notch care when and where they need it.
CARING FOR UNDER SERVED POPULATIONS
Telehealth has been critical in delivering care not only to urban settings, but to underserved communities as well. These communities may struggle to recruit and retain physicians because they are low in come or less populated, making it difficult to sustain a successful practice. Leveraging telehealth has been an instrumental way to act as a force multiplier and extend healthcare to these communities.
For example, we work with one healthcare system that has no employed specialty care providers. Therefore, we set out to create a partnership to offer them telehealth services in specialty care areas such as cardiology, nephrology and rheumatology. Now, instead of driving a few hours into the city to be seen by a provider, patients can go to a local facility, be presented by a healthcare professional, and be seen by one of our specialists without having to travel.