Properly understanding the full capabilities of telehealth, as well as its limitations, will help candidates, their healthcare platforms, and citizens at large throughout the 2020 election.
In October, U.S. Senator and presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders was admitted to a Las Vegas hospital where he was then treated for artery blockage. While reports indicated that Sanders was in good spirits after the incident, the event highlighted just how much healthcare will be focused on throughout the 2020 election.
As the Democratic candidates debate about how health insurance plans can be adjusted and what government programs need to be created or altered, telehealth is something that should be focused on and incorporated into these ongoing discussions. But many Americans may not know what telehealth is and how it can improve their daily lives.
Telehealth has the ability to strengthen healthcare processes and improve patient outcomes, and it is something that is deserving of Democratic candidates’ attention. Here is an evaluation of how Democratic candidates’ healthcare platforms are incorporating telehealth’s extensive benefits and advantages.
Treating conditions that don’t require physical exams
Telehealth enables individuals to be treated for conditions that don’t require physical exams. A person who has been diagnosed with diabetes can use a digital device to monitor their blood sugar levels instead of having to travel to far-away clinics for that service.
Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Joe Biden are some of the Democratic candidates who support Medicare for All or some larger healthcare option. These plans could increase access to telehealth digital devices/platforms and help Americans to receive treatment for various ailments such as colds, rashes, or blood pressure conditions. The candidates themselves should focus on this benefit of telehealth when heading into 2020.
Addressing racial, rural, and socioeconomic disparities in healthcare
In the United States, minorities and individuals who come from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds often do not have the same ability to receive high-quality medical care as other citizens. For those living in rural areas across the United States, the nearest doctor or clinic may be hours away, and that organization may not be able to provide all of the services that a patient requires.
This is another area where telehealth is beneficial, as it enables individuals to receive quality care that is still accessible and affordable, for example, consulting with physicians by digital means or receiving medication at a less expensive price through an online subscription service.
The Democratic presidential candidates have highlighted how there is a widespread lack of access to quality healthcare, let alone any type of healthcare, for these populations. Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic presidential hopeful, has previously discussed and co-sponsored legislation aimed at expanding healthcare and telehealth services in rural areas.
Providing low-cost care, especially if healthcare expands
If a Democratic presidential candidate is elected and some version of Medicare for All does come to fruition, it is possible that the price of these plans or options may fluctuate. Additionally, those who are opposed to Medicare for All may cite how more taxpayer dollars would be going towards funding such a widespread healthcare initiative.
But telehealth can actually help provide and fulfill certain services for those who would be obtaining health insurance under a wider Medicare for All initiative. This is something that the Democratic presidential candidates should be focusing on, as telehealth can be part of the answer of how to keep a Medicare for All plan an affordable and reasonable justification of taxpayer spending.
Treating victims of natural disasters and emergency events remotely
A hurricane or wildfire can leave immediate and long-lasting impacts on a person’s physical and mental health. They may suffer immediate burns or have limbs broken as a result of the disaster, and later experience anxiety, depression, and other afflictions stemming from that initial traumatic event.
Telehealth can help first responders collect information about individuals who have been injured as a result of a disaster. Victims who have later experienced trauma, anxiety, and depression can use telehealth to consult remotely with mental health practitioners and receive treatment.
Many of the candidates have certainly highlighted their plans and approaches for maintaining national security, but not necessarily how they would address and help citizens’ whose health was negatively impacted as a result of disaster or emergencies. This is another area where Democratic candidates can highlight the benefits of telehealth, as it can provide a more efficient and effective method for treating such victims.
Understanding the limitations of telehealth
Telehealth can help provide access to affordable and widespread health services. It can empower individuals to take ownership of their health and help prevent future illness from going untreated. And as technology continues to evolve, so does the reach of telehealth.
However, telehealth is still not a “cure-all” or a quick fix to today’s modern healthcare problems. A patient can use telehealth to be treated for the flu or a common cold, but they can’t receive certain kinds of care including physical exams and surgical procedures via their smartphones. Telehealth can help to address and to bridge healthcare gaps in rural areas and among disadvantaged populations, but it cannot fix the larger issues that create such disparities in the first place.
Democratic presidential candidates should include telehealth into their larger campaign initiatives, but they also need to remain cognizant of the more complex health issues that digital tools and services can’t necessarily solve. Properly understanding the full capabilities of telehealth, as well as its limitations, will help candidates, their healthcare platforms, and citizens at large throughout the 2020 election.
Source: Medcity News