1. It’s Accessible (But Not for Everyone)
For people who are equipped with technology resources, it’s a readily accessible option. If someone has a smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer, and reliable internet, they can easily access telehealth options. HIPPA compliance rules have been relaxed amidst the current crisis, so providers can utilize a variety of platforms. If you are looking to utilize telehealth services, and want to maintain your privacy, ensure you are using a provider that is using a HIPPA compliant telehealth solution. First Step Services, LLC uses HIPPA compliant Connexus On Demand for its group sessions, and Doxy.me for our individual sessions.
Unfortunately, for people without these technology devices on hand, or a reliable source of internet, telehealth is far less accessible than in-person doctor visits. With libraries and community centers remaining shut, public access to technology resources is currently limited. Regrettably, this digital divide is only part of the ongoing parity concerns as it relates to healthcare access.
2. Insurance Providers are Adapting
Many of the major private insurance providers have made adjustments to their member benefits. A number of companies, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Aetna, are temporarily waiving copay costs for telemedicine services. However, to avoid any unwanted surprises, be sure to read the fine print of your specific policy, to ensure you are across any changes. Medicaid and Medicare options have expanded their telehealth coverage options too.
While many of these adjustments are only temporary at this stage, insurance companies and government entities may need to reevaluate the importance of digital health services well beyond this pandemic. I guess we’ll all need to wait and see.
3. Virtual Care Helps Combat the Spread of COVID-19
Both physical and behavioral healthcare providers are using telehealth solutions to screen patients before offering any in-person follow-up services. The more we can abide by the stay-at-home orders, and continue to follow the social distancing guidelines, the better off we’ll all be. Telehealth helps us do just that, without compromising the therapeutic benefits of clinical therapy sessions.
We understand that the idea of talking to a counselor or doctor through a computer or smartphone can be uncomfortable and confronting. However, as this is quickly becoming “the new norm,” people are adapting to the changes, and telehealth has never been simpler.
4. Telehealth is a Viable Option
Telehealth options are invariably more suitable for specific types of care, including behavioral health. First Step Services, LLC utilizes various clinical approaches to meet people where they’re at, and help them work through challenges they are facing with mental health, or substance use issues. Not everything is currently suitable for telehealth, but given more time, it will be interesting to see how much further we advance in this field. Given the option, many people would prefer face-to-face interaction, however, telehealth is a good alternative.
Many people are using telehealth technology for the first time amidst growing uncertainty and anxiety about the current situation. Some people are skeptical, which is to be expected. However, we encourage you to have an open mind and to trust in the process. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. We are here to help!