I went to Paris this past March with my sister. We’d jumped through all the hoops to be able to fly to Europe, arriving to the airport on the day of our departure both fully vaccinated and boostered. We obviously had an amazing time walking through the Louvre and watching the sunset at the Eiffel Tower. It felt like a dream to travel after two long years of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But on our last night in the city of lights, we realized in order to fly home to the US the next morning, we needed proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Since traveling to Paris hadn’t required a negative test, we didn’t even think to check before that moment at 8pm the night before our flight. To make matters worse, the negative test required a doctor to perform the test in real time. Panicking, we read through the other options, one of them telling us we could buy a self-administered test and use a Telehealth service to connect us with a doctor via video-call in order to monitor the test administration in real time.
Relieved, we finally found a pharmacy downtown that sold the tests the Telehealth service required. We hopped on the metro, ran through the streets of Paris, and bought the tests before the pharmacy closed for the night.
Once we got back to our flat, the doctor monitored the self-administered tests over video-call, we got our results (they were negative thank goodness), and we submitted the forms to the airport to receive our boarding passes. All within the span of 20 minutes.
Then we happily ate our baguette and cheese and got some sleep before our early flight the next morning.
That Telehealth service saved us from missing our flight home. To say we were thankful that Telehealth existed in that moment would be a massive understatement. And while my experience had to do more with the timing and convenience of Telehealth, there are so many other long-term benefits.
There are so many people who need medical attention, but because of their remote location, may not have the access to the health care they need. Telehealth makes it possible to meet with doctors, refill prescriptions, even monitor your vitals remotely.
Similarly, someone who struggles to travel to a doctor’s office because of mobility or other issues can benefit from online healthcare.
Let’s say you have a specific need for a back injury. There’s an orthopedic physician your doctor refers, but they work in a city three hours from where you live. Instead of taking the trip all the way out there, using Telehealth, your doctor can conduct a virtual consultation with the specialist. Your doctor can send the specialist notes, x-rays, exams, etc. and the specialist can respond with a virtual meeting, or schedule a face-to-face visit more quickly.
With the increased accessibility to health care Telehealth provides, you can take more control over your health and your health records. The online nature of Telehealth also gives you the autonomy to own and maintain your records, which can improve your overall healthcare experience and more effectively provide doctors with the information they really need.
Of course, with all new technology there is still a lot to discover. The medical field is still in the process of figuring out when Telehealth is the best option and when in-person visits are still necessary. The examples above illustrate when Telehealth may work best, but there are still limitations. Read more about the pros and cons to Telehealth here.
But whether you’re a traveler like me needing proof of a negative Covid test ASAP, or you have a parent or grandparent that could use the medical care, but not the weekly 30 minute trip to the doctor’s office, Telehealth can benefit everyone in some way.
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