The Importance of Programs Like Telehealth During A Pandemic

February 10, 2021

Nothing is more important than your health, and in today's world, it can be challenging to balance the risk and reward of going to the doctor. However, that does not have to be the case. Telehealth provides a solution, utilizing technology and information to give you the care you need and deserve whenever and wherever you need it.

Telehealth is a vital part of medicine during a pandemic, allowing those within the field to communicate with one another and their patients. This allows patients to seek out information and receive treatment from anywhere, lowering the risk of exposure.

While not an entirely new concept, with growing advances and a pressing need for it, the field of Telehealth is expanding rapidly. In this article, we will discuss what Telehealth is, why it is so important, and how it can benefit you.


The importance of Telehealth during a pandemic cannot be stressed enough. One of the most dangerous things during a pandemic is exposure. Telehealth, which utilizes telecommunications technology to offer a broad number of services meant to improve various aspects of health care, limits that exposure.

Telehealth provides information, education, and clinical treatment, ranging from remote vitals monitoring to doctor-patient consultations and anything in between. By doing this, it provides both safety and communication options to help ensure patients can maintain their health while limiting their risks.

Of course, Telehealth's ability to communicate over long distances is not only useful for preventing exposure. It also allows access to those who may lack proper medical care otherwise. When facing a pandemic, medical care is even more vital than before, so spreading that access as far as possible becomes incredibly important.

Furthermore, it has proven effective at answering some of the difficulties created by the pandemic, not only benefit patients but also physicians, allowing them to provide better and more well-rounded care.

Telehealth During a Pandemic

The challenges faced during a pandemic are multi-faceted, with patients and providers facing various struggles, which leaves a lot to be wrestled with during an already stressful time. However, Telehealth can help combat some of the prevalent issues facing the medical field.

One issue already touched upon is balancing the risk of going to see a doctor with the severity of the problem, which is a complicated issue for many because it involves potentially putting both themselves and their loved ones at risk. It can be difficult to decide whether it is worth it, especially if it is for something that does not seem serious.

However, while patients face many challenges, health care facilities and medical professionals also face risks. They must not only navigate their own challenges, but they must do so while ensuring they properly care for their patients. Some of the challenges faced by providers during a pandemic are:

  • Capacity
  • Supplies
  • Workforce

The Challenges

Providers must balance a great many things during a pandemic, all while ensuring proper patient care. This includes finding space for the increased number of patients during a pandemic, which often means overcrowding and pushing off less important things, such as elective surgeries. It also means spreading supplies and staff thin.

Additionally, with more people in the same amount of space, the likelihood of the pandemic spreading increases, which is one of the reasons that so many people stay away from hospitals. But not everyone has that option. Medical care professionals also take the risk of getting sick, and they do so willingly.

However, what happens if a medical care professional gets sick? First, there is the risk of them spreading what they have to other patients and staff. Consider what happens when supplies and space are limited and both patients and doctors begin getting sick.

With each patient that gets sick, an additional strain is placed on the already taut provider, and when a medical professional gets sick, they lose some of their ability to deal with that strain. This is where Telehealth really comes into place.

Telehealth's Answer

It was briefly mentioned that Telehealth provides a way for people to seek treatment when they would not take the risk otherwise. It is also a way to provide treatment for less severe cases without clogging up facilities by replacing physical visits with virtual appointments. It also addressed several other problems faced during a pandemic:

  • Supplies may be limited during a pandemic, especially disposable items such as gloves and masks. However, by utilizing telehealth services, it removes the need for those supplies. While some people may still need to make an in-person visit, it reduces the volume used.
  • Both patients and doctors get sick, but a sick doctor may not have to stop working with the use of telehealth services. If a doctor is infected but not symptomatic, they are still unable to be around patients due to the risk. However, by using telehealth services, they can keep working and help more patients.
  • The ability to manage patients without in-person visits allows for doctors to avoid the extra steps needed to ensure safety, speeding up appointments, and allowing doctors to help more patients.


While it is clear how effective Telehealth is during a pandemic, the greatest benefit when it comes to Telehealth is still the safety it provides. It allows for a great many things to be done without ever stepping into a doctor's office, including:

  • Uploading food logs, blood pressure, and other medical information for review by a nurse or doctor.
  • Ordering medical testing and medications online.
  • Using an online patient portal to communicate and schedule appointments with your physician.
  • Attending virtual appointments.

Those are only a few ways in which Telehealth provides safe alternatives to in-person doctor-patient consultations. Of course, there are limitations and specific things you need to know, but it is all within reach, available on your smartphone or computer. If you are reading this now, you can likely access these services.

More People Seek Help

With safety being such a major concern during a pandemic, many people may choose to ignore their health to avoid what they see as a greater danger, particularly those who are vulnerable, such as:

  • The elderly
  • Those with pre-existing conditions
  • Those with loved ones who fall into the previous two categories

However, the people who avoid taking the risk are often the very people who need to take the most precautions in regard to their health. This leaves them in a difficult position, trying to decide whether they should take the risk or wait it out. It is not limited to vulnerable individuals either, with the risk causing many to not get treatment.

Telehealth can play a vital role here, allowing those very people to reach out to physicians quickly and safely, without feeling at risk or hesitating. Not only that, but even if they do have to go in to see someone, at least they can be sure it is absolutely necessary.


Another major benefit of Telehealth/Virtual visits is the fact that it allows for greater communication, and not only between patients and physicians. In fact, one of the best features of a growing telehealth field is the ability for physicians to communicate better. For instance, allowing primary care physicians to contact specialists.

When you consider Telehealth, it is probably to keep in contact with your primary care physician. While this may not always be the case, a primary care physician is a good place to start for most problems. So, your primary care physician having access to specialists and other physicians is important. It directly benefits you.

This fact also means your doctor can keep up-to-date on all the latest news and protocols, which is of particular importance during a pandemic. Some other useful features for communication include:

  • Patient Portals
  • Remote Monitoring
  • Virtual Appointments

Patient Portal

While physicians being able to keep in touch and up-to-date is important, you being able to communicate with your doctor is even more so. Fortunately, with Telehealth, it becomes quite simple to reach out for a variety of things. A patient portal will be your main way of doing that.

A patient portal is a secure alternative to email, which is not suited for the communication of private medical information. A few things you can do with a patient portal are:

  • Communicate with nurses and doctors
  • Request refills for prescriptions
  • Review your medical information from tests and previous visits
  • Schedule, change or cancel appointments

Patient portals do not just include a single doctor, often linking to a larger health care system. This makes it easy to share information between your primary care physician and specialists you may need to see, eliminating the wait and potential missing information when seeing a new doctor.

Remote Monitoring

Remote monitoring includes anything that allows a healthcare provider to track a patient's health data from a distance. This is helpful for keeping an eye out on patients who are at risk, such as those with heart conditions and who are recovering from surgery.

It is effective for chronic care management, allowing long-term issues to be closely monitored at all times without the need for constant in-person checkups. Being able to monitor from afar is particularly useful during pandemics, allowing for less exposure for problems that can be tracked at a distance.

In order to be successful, however, it requires the proper equipment. It requires a tracker suited for the patient's needs and will require the patient to be properly self-motivated to use it.

Virtual Appointments

Virtual appointments, also known as real-time Telehealth, are what most people think about when they think of Telehealth. Virtual appointments, which are made with a medical professional using videoconferencing, are perhaps the most useful telehealth tool during a pandemic due to reducing the need for in-person visits.

Video conferencing may sound complicated, but it is actually quite simple, being little more than a video chat, similar to Skype or FaceTime. Video chat is something that can be done using a webcam or a smartphone, and while the exact method varies depending on the physician, there is not much more to it than that.

Video chat allows people to communicate with their physician from anywhere, such as their own home's comfort and safety. For those who want to prevent exposure, it is a convenient way to do that. Even if that is not your goal, it allows for more flexible appointments with your doctor, helping you meet your health needs more easily.

Services Provided Through Virtual Appointments

While virtual appointments have their advantages, they cannot cover everything an in-person appointment can. However, a variety of health concerns can be addressed. A few of the conditions a primary care physician can potentially treat through virtual appointments and telemedicine in general are:

  • Allergies
  • Cold and Flu
  • Infections
  • Strains, Sprains, and Sports Injuries

The list is longer, and your medical provider can tell you more. Even if you cannot be treated through a virtual appointment, it can still be a good place to start. In fact, surgeons can use virtual appointments to post-op work and check-ins, and specialists can provide counseling and discuss recent lab results or answer questions.

Furthermore, physicians can write prescriptions if the need arises, allowing you to skip the in-person visit unless it is absolutely necessary.

Preparing for Your Virtual Appointment

If you think a virtual appointment is right for you, the first thing you should do is discuss it with a reputable virtual office company. Learn about their process and if they offer virtual appointments. Once you have determined how and when you will have your appointment, make sure that you are prepared.

Unlike a traditional doctor's visit, you may be required to do a bit more yourself. Your virtual care provider may not have your records, including medications and other pertinent information. Therefore, you should have it on hand to give to your medical provider. Having your information is especially important if you schedule an appointment with a new physician, APRN, PA, or specialist.

Additionally, try to jot down the reason for your appointment. If it is a regular follow-up, this step may not be necessary, but if you are looking for a consultation on something new, be sure to have as clear a description as you can provide. You should also think about whether you will need any additional information, such as:

  • Weight
  • Blood Pressure
  • Temperature
  • Mobile Medical Devices

Telehealth Apps

One quick note for those without a primary care physician who offers virtual visits. There are a variety of telehealth apps, potentially called telemedicine apps. These apps allow you to enter your information in and see a doctor who uses the app, allowing for instant access to a physician.

Telehealth apps require you to provide medical information, including your family history and any other relevant information. 

While these options provide less personalized care, they have physicians available 24/7, unlike virtual appointments with your primary care.

Some companies will have programs that are HIPPA compliant cloud-based applications that allow you to review and sign paperwork and transfer medical information securely. 

Additional Benefits of Telehealth

A crucial service that Telehealth provides is the ability to break down geographical and cultural barriers, which is of particular use in a pandemic situation since it allows the globe to unite under the banner of better health care. In addition, it can reduce the difficulties of language barriers by potentially allowing for a translator or aide.

Those with limited mobility also benefit greatly from telehealth services, which allow them to attend and potentially be treated without going through the difficulties involved in an in-person visit.

Make sure to keep an open mind towards the different types of health services you can participate in using telehealth programs. For instance, Telehealth can be used to help with mental health issues as well, which are far more prevalent during a pandemic.

Some Limitations to Consider

Of course, Telehealth is not without its drawbacks. To understand whether Telehealth is right for you and your needs, consider these things:

  • There are times when an in-person visit is necessary. Whether it is due to the urgency, underlying conditions, or a simple inability to perform the required tests or exams, some cases require physical proximity. Take your situation into account and do what is best for you.
  • Comfort with technology and access to the needed technological devices can also limit the effectiveness of Telehealth. If you are not comfortable with it or do not have access to the right technology, it may not be right for you. However, the process can be done on a smartphone or computer and is far easier than one might think, especially today.
  • Insurance and costs. While the presence of a pandemic changes things to a certain degree, it is a good idea to learn about the costs associated with telehealth services and what will or will not be covered for you.


The risks and challenges that come along with a pandemic can be overwhelming, but Telehealth provides the resources to help curb those risks. If you are looking for an easy way to limit your risks while meeting your medical needs, you should seriously consider exploring your telehealth options.


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