Before the Covid-19 crisis, I — like most physicians — thought that in person, face-to-face encounters afforded me the greatest level of connection and intimacy with my patients. Yet many of us have been pleasantly surprised to discover the perks of telehealth during the unprecedented coronavirus crisis.
Centuries of doctor-patient relations have centered on in-person communication and physical examination. We have been conditioned to view that as the norm, causing us to see telehealth as disembodied and impersonal, making us reluctant to embrace it.
Then came the Covid-19 ambush. With mandated social distancing policies in place to counter the rapid spread of a highly infective virus, health care providers have been forced into an overnight arranged marriage with telemedicine. For some of us, there is the potential for true love.
Telehealth has many advantages, including keeping patients safe from possible exposure to the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, improving access to care, cutting health care costs, and contributing toward a greener earth by cutting down on car trips to see doctors in their offices. It also offers its own type of personal and lighthearted or even heart-warming connections.
Over the past few weeks, I have had conversations with several colleagues about this new wrinkle in our professional lives. Here are some of the things we enjoy about telemedicine in the time of Covid-19: