During the pandemic, telephone and video medical visits became the norm for many providers. A recent study in The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that New York State safety net providers had positive experiences using telehealth with their patients during the past year. However, the researchers noted that although remote visits made it easier for patients to complete appointments, it also exposed the lack of access at-need populations they serve have to the technology necessary for telemedicine visits.

Why it’s important

The providers surveyed in the study found the telemedicine visits to be as effective as in-person visits and had the added benefit of reducing no-shows. It also made attending appointments for vulnerable populations and those with busy schedules easier and more accessible.

Of course, not all appointments could be conducted virtually. Patients requiring vaccinations needed in-person care, and certain types of appointments, such as well-child visits, were less effective when provided remotely. It was also difficult for some patients to use the technical tools necessary to attend telemedicine visits.

The providers surveyed did have suggestions for improving telehealth visits that could help to alleviate some of these pain points. They suggested developing more user-friendly platforms, providing funding for organizations to make the adjustments needed for telemedicine, and working towards universal broadband and enhanced Wifi capabilities.

Other current studies

The rise of telehealth during the pandemic has provided researchers with a plethora of information about telemedicine’s benefits and drawbacks. A study from the University of Missouri looked at how the rapid increase in telemedicine affected nursing home residents. They found that while it increased access to services, it led to increased social isolation.

Future Studies

The researchers suggest that future research should focus on supporting communication between providers and patients. They also propose assessing the type of care preferred by both providers and patients to determine the best method of care to provide.