Is Telehealth the Future of Cancer Care?
September 21, 2021
Technology has made so many strides over the years, making the lives of people like you and me easier. Who would have ever thought we would be having virtual doctor appointments?
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services defines telehealth, or telemedicine, as “the use of telecommunications and information technology to provide access to health assessment, diagnosis, intervention, consultation, supervision and information across distance.” This includes a whole range of technology, from simple telephones to remote patient monitoring systems.
As a mesothelioma survivor, I have several regular doctor appointments just for follow-ups to my treatment. Being able to connect with my medical care team via a virtual portal is such a relief. Also, knowing I can pull my medical records and test results with a click of a button is reassuring. For cancer patients, the flexibility to remain at home while still having access to care is huge.
I remember my first telehealth experience. I had gone to my local emergency room because I was having an allergic reaction to crab legs. Yes, I’m allergic to a food that I like a lot!
After I was taken to triage, the nurse rolled in with an iPad on wheels. I thought to myself, what’s going on, because she had already taken my vitals. She then rolled the iPad in front of me and said the doctor would be on shortly. To be honest, I was hesitant and was having second thoughts about choosing that particular hospital.
So, the doctor appeared on the screen and started her evaluation. I’m sure she could tell I wasn’t comfortable, so she explained that I would be getting the same care and attention as if she were actually standing in front of me. My concerns were eased a bit but I couldn’t wait to tell my husband.
The New Medical Normal
Over the last year and a half, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, telehealth has been used more frequently by a variety of health care systems. The pandemic pretty much shut everything down. The entire health care field had to pivot just to make sure patients weren’t missing out on medical attention. Now, phone visits with the doctor, viewing test results online, and receiving and sending messages with the medical team has become the new normal.
It’s also been wonderful to be able to connect with mesothelioma patients, other survivors and caregivers during my weekly mesothelioma support group call. It’s all about connection and feeling like you’re not by yourself during your journey.
Telehealth is very helpful, and such a great option for patients, but you should still speak with your doctor about which situations are best for this new technology.
Perks of Telehealth
The world of telehealth has been expanding quickly. Just within the last decade, health care systems across the country have begun integrating it into their processes.
Telehealth offers a lot of benefits to patients, including:
- Greater access to providers
- Improved quality and continuity of care
- Reduced health care costs
- Remote monitoring options
With that said, here are some ways you can make the most of your appointments.
- Write your questions and concerns down beforehand.
- Make sure your internet connection is good.
- Check your device to ensure the speaker and camera are working properly.
- Relax, and be sure you’re in a quiet area.
- Make sure you’re in a well-lit room so the doctor can evaluate you easily.
- Be open minded.
The way technology is changing every day, who knows where it will take medical advances. But I’m sure telehealth is here to stay and will continue to evolve.