While the push for people to access online medical advice hasn’t started during the novel coronavirus pandemic, the healthcare crisis has certainly heightened the importance of this service.
To avoid the risk of spreading the virus, many people have started using telehealth technology to interact with healthcare professionals. This method allows patients to receive information about the treatments they need for many conditions while protecting themselves from infection or transmitting the virus to others.
But a telehealth service also presents its share of challenges. Some people who use it for advice while improving their mental health believe that holding sessions online makes them feel more disconnected from their therapists than they would if they were meeting in person.
The Adirondack Health Institute and the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization joined forces a few years ago to establish the North Country Telehealth Partnership and improve telehealth services for residents of upstate New York. These groups have recently launched two surveys and are seeking feedback on what is working well and how they can improve this practice.
“The North Country Telehealth Partnership has been in existence since 2015, with the goal of increasing access to healthcare through telehealth technology, especially in our rural areas,” said Nancy DelMastro, Telehealth Project Manager, in a statement. as reported in an article published Tuesday by the Watertown Daily Times. “Although the use of telehealth technology gradually took off between 2015 and 2019, its growth has increased exponentially due to the [coronavirus] pandemic – from just 231 visits in 2015 to [more than] 128,000 in 2020 and [more than] 170,000 in 2021. Now that patients and their healthcare providers have more than likely had the opportunity to use telemedicine for visits, now is a great time to find out what their experiences were like. This information is essential to help us continually make improvements and reduce barriers to accessing telemedicine options. »
Both surveys are aimed at health care providers as well as community members who have used telehealth services. The targeted areas are Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties. Survey responses will be taken until July 31.