Prior to COVID-19, many patients—especially those with chronic conditions and more complex medical issues—were hesitant to use telemedicine. A commonly held belief was that it would only be good for general health concerns, such as prescription refills or basic ailments. Then the pandemic hit and, for many, telemedicine became the only option available for those sheltering in place. Both physicians and patients were forced to try telemedicine in order to manage chronic conditions.
This then created room to further test this new approach—how useful is telemedicine, when does it make sense to use it, and is it something that should continue to be used after the pandemic is over?
According to recent studies, people who were once skeptical, but later tried telemedicine during COVID-19, have a very different view of this new approach than those who never had a virtual doctor’s appointment previously.
Since March, patients who tried telemedicine rate it much higher than in-person visits in several areas, versus those who have never tried it. Those who utilized telemedicine found it to be:
- More convenient
- And a better solution for routine matters
In fact, 57% of patients who tried telemedicine since March report that they will most likely use it again even after the pandemic is over, versus only 33% who have never tried it.
Why Patients With Chronic Conditions Should Use Telemedicine
For those with chronic conditions, ongoing care is typically vital. For some patients, keeping up with appointments, especially if they require taking time off of work to see the doctor, can be prohibitive. For those sheltering-in-place during the pandemic, virtual visits allowed for ongoing, uninterrupted care, without having to leave the house.
For those who have been using telemedicine since March, the main reason behind them scheduling appointments, whether with a specialist or primary care physician, was continuity of care, and being able to maintain their health during the pandemic.
For those living with chronic health conditions, maintaining continuous engagement with their specialists is vital, especially for diseases such as lupus, Parkinson’s, COPD, and others. Telemedicine is an effective way for patients to check-in with their healthcare providers for ongoing care and monitoring, to discuss a new symptom or problem, and more.
While in-person visits are sometimes necessary for ongoing care of chronic or complex conditions, telemedicine is an excellent option for overall management. And, the sudden demand for telemedicine showed patients its potential and ease, changing their perceptions and making it a viable long-term option.