Part of my research interests revolves around mobile health and integrating that into mainstream healthcare system. Mobile health can include things like online peer support, online platforms used to deliver health services and telehealth. For years, there has been advocacy for telehealth subsidises and its integration into metropolitan hospitals. And for years, it’s been “too difficult” or “there isn’t a need for it”. Cue COVID19 and within a few weeks, majority of our health appointments are done via telehealth or videoconferencing.
At the same time, I find myself in a sea of appointments. I had several endo appointments trying to sort out my thyroid, my educator appointment and a few GP appointments to coordinate other referrals. Not to mention frequent visits to the pathology lab.
I have to say that even though I really appreciated the quick phone call appointments with my endo, I missed going in to catch up. With my educator, we had used a videoconferencing platform. It was awesome to see my educator at the other end but I still missed our “hang out” time and long chats. Turns out I can be a really Chatty Cathy with my diabetes team. Then I had the horror realisation that I was one of those patients who doesn’t stop talking…Eep! Sorry!
Given that I usually travel a fair distance to see my endo and educator, the time saved by using telehealth was invaluable. If they were running late, I was able to continue working while waiting for their phone call or being in the virtual waiting room. I didn’t have to wrangle public transport or pay for parking. I did miss making these appointments a bit special without my usual cafe treat experiences, but that will come back soon.
Since I was a new patient at the GP clinic, I had to attend the first appointment in person. I was excited (and slightly anxious) to have a reason to leave the house and go for a walk! Thankfully the clinic was super organised and had strict entry screening and social distancing rules. It was also so nice to speak with others in person. I didn’t realise how much I had missed it.
As much as I love telehealth professionally and personally, I think that there will always be a place for face to face consultations. I’m still really excited that practitioners around Australia are adapting to telehealth options. COVID19 seems to be the push that the healthcare system needed to keep up with the times and technology the world has got to offer. Of course, we still have a way to go to integrate this into our healthcare system as usual practice. To this, I say, bring it on!