Prior to the COVID pandemic, there were virtual options in healthcare for those unable to see their physician in person, but they were few and far between. Oftentimes, most individuals didn’t even know this was an option when it was available, and in all honesty, it likely wasn’t an option for most. That all changed with COVID. I’m sure most people reading this remember the distinct sense of uncertainty as face-to-face contact between businesses, healthcare providers, and schools began to shut down. It can be scary, the feeling of being unable to reach your doctors to consult about your health issues, especially if you have a chronic condition requiring consistent monitoring and treatment. In the end, however, it seems that technology and know-how prevailed, and in the present, many of us are now accustomed to virtual visits with our doctors and therapists. Many of companies, like Telehealth, specialize in Zoom-like software designed specifically for healthcare. These services tend to have a higher level of confidentiality and security, unlike services like Zoom where it’s relatively easy for anyone to pop into the session uninvited. In fact, many people have grown to prefer virtual healthcare to physical visits. Obviously, it’s not a complete substitute, and doctors need the ability, at times, to physically examine you, but overall, it’s highly convenient and it’s favorable to those who live far away from their provider.
As we get back to “normal”, however, what should happen? Does getting back to normal mean going back to the way things were, or should we take what’s worked for us over the past year and continue to apply it as we move forward? Much like the general professional world, where a large contingent of those who enjoy working from home would rather switch companies than be forced to go back into the office, there are probably strong feelings on both sides. There are certainly some doctors that saw the virtual visit as a necessary evil until most of the population is vaccinated, while other providers would rather continue to heavily utilize the virtual infrastructure. Ideally, patients would have the options to use the virtual option when it isn’t completely necessary to see their doctor or therapist in person, but they would still come back in for a physical visit occasionally, for the sake of posterity (or when necessary, obviously). Overall, it seems that most people tend to agree that there’s a compromise somewhere in between, and hopefully we can continue to normalize the virtual visit without “abusing” it. It seems that this is yet another existing technology that probably would’ve taken years to become mainstream and widely used without the pandemic. As we look forward, hopefully we can begin to implement more technologies and services of convenience without having to wait for another public health crisis.