Telehealth, also known as telemedicine, is a term used to describe the means for delivering health care and related services through technology, generally in real time over video/audio services like FaceTime, Skype, or special medical applications or websites used for this purpose. It can also include phone calls or remote patient monitoring where a provider can monitor a patient’s vital signs or other health data.
eRheum is specifically focused on a subset of telehealth known as “telerheumatology.”
Our goal is to provide you with the information you need for a productive and successful telehealth visit with a rheumatology health care provider visit, although much of this information can also apply to telehealth visits with other types of providers.
Some ways you can use telehealth include:
Video chat about your symptoms or medication side effects
Send over a picture of a rash or other symptom of concern
Check in to see how you’re managing your health condition
Get a prescription refill
Have a therapy session
Get a referral to another specialist
Get a second opinion
Telehealth and the COVID-19 pandemic
Providers and patients have needed to communicate at a distance, which has led to an increase in demand for telehealth services. Stakeholders responded to this need with important regulatory and policy changes. (Read more about this in our telehealth advocacy section.) Telehealth quickly swept in as the solution to ensure that patients have continued access to their providers while being able to remain safely at home.
According to a report by the consulting firm McKinsey, medical providers began seeing 50 to 175 times the number of patients via remote access platforms in the aftermath of COVID-19 than they did before.
Access to telehealth has been particularly important for people living with rheumatic conditions. Many patients with autoimmune and inflammatory arthritis see their rheumatologists for regular check-ups, every three to six months or even more frequently. Patients have had many concerns about their medications and their risk of COVID-19 infection and complications. Rheumatologists are uniquely suited to address these questions. And for many rheumatic disease patients, the pandemic has led to increases in symptoms of their underlying health condition, such as pain, fatigue, and mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
For all these reasons, being able to see a rheumatology care provider without interruption to a typical visit schedule is critically important. Telehealth allows rheumatology patients to do this.