Telehealth has an important place in the healthcare system and can help shift the view of healthcare from intervention to prevention. Laws and regulations in place help to increase access to telehealth services. Conversely, if eliminated it can decrease the use and potential of telehealth in many healthcare fields. It is hopeful that policies will remain and telehealth will continue to have a place in modern healthcare.
Allowing practioners to practice across different states helps to serve those in underserved communites. In her Ted Talk, Linsey Meyers shares the story of a young girl, Farrah, who lives in rural Montana. On the way to a family member's farm she was pinning under an overturned ATV. The ATV was quickly lifted off of her, but she was unresponsive. The family was 60 minutes away from the nearest hospital. Her mother drove to meet the ambulance that was dispatched, yet they were still 30 minutes from the hospital. In the ambulance the staff was connected to Dr Scourse over 600 miles away. Many rural hospitals to do not have a hospitialist on 24 hours a day, so telemedicine is reliant to help these hospital function. Without access to telemedicine services, Farrah may not have gotten access to the necessary care in the right amount of time (TedXTalks, 2017).
While there are great benefits from telehealth in its current state, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. Disparities amongst access to care and state legistlature make access to services inequal. Allowing physicians to practice across multiple states can allow for rural areas to get access to the proper care. Ensuring that regulations don't require services to be delivered across one medium will also help those will access to less advanced technology. While there may be an arguement that video appointments are of higher quality, it ultimately comes down to patient preference. If a patient cannot access the means to join a video call, a telephone will be of equal quality given that they would have had no reaction otherwise.
Across all disciplines, telehealth has the chance to increase quality of patient outcomes and increase the availability of care. Patients can access their portals and send messages to their providers and nursing staff and get quick answers to concerns. While the pandemic created an emergent need for telemedicine services, utilizing this approach in combination with in-person visits can help patients better manage chronic illness, or provide immediate care for a patient in a critical situation, such as Farrah above. If licensure, legislation, and regulation surrounding telehealth continue to advance in support of telehealth, the nation could have a much more connected healthcare system and a healthier population.