In July 2021, we looked at some must-know telehealth facts. Now, nearly a year later, here are some need-to-know facts about telehealth in 2022!
1. There’s a difference between telehealth and telemedicine.
Many of us use these terms interchangeably, but if you’ve ever wondered if there’s any difference, the American Academy of Family Physicians’ website sets the record straight:
“Telehealth” is the general idea of virtual healthcare, while “telemedicine” specifically refers to care or treatment administered remotely.
That said, most of us will probably continue to use the terms interchangeably.
2. Telehealth access in rural areas of the US is currently a major issue.
The CDC has found that people living in the rural US, where distance, a physician shortage, and other issues make access to healthcare sites difficult, are more likely to die prematurely of conditions like stroke, cancer, and injuries.
The CDC and other organizations are working hard to bring telehealth and telemedicine to rural communities, but a change in US legislation is threatening one aspect of remote care….
3. Doctors’ right to practice across state lines is being pulled back, but is more important than ever for some patients.
During the pandemic, a 19th-century law that required doctors to hold a state license in order to practice medicine there was temporarily repealed so that patients who couldn’t travel could have access to healthcare by consulting them remotely. Now, this temporary reprieve is beginning to expire in different states.
This will limit access for patients in rural areas, as well as those who face other challenges when it comes to getting in-person care. It will also make it more difficult for out-of-state patients to consult with out-of-state specialists.
Some reproductive rights activists are also calling for the law to be extended, since it would allow people in states where abortion access is severely restricted (and may in the future be entirely illegal) to get help from out-of-state reproductive health professionals.
Fortunately, members of Congress have introduced a bill that would extend this emergency national medical coverage. Time will tell if it’s voted in….
4. Recent studies often show different results about who uses telehealth the most.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, in May 2022, Hispanic patients are the least likely group to use telehealth, while non-Hispanic whites are the most likely.
On the other hand, a study from the US Department of Health and Human Services, published in February 2022, found that Black patients were the largest group using telehealth.
This seeming disparity might be due to the way statistics were reported - the second report, for instance, categorizes patients by their use of Medicaid and Medicare as well. Or it could simply show that we don’t have enough clear data and widespread studies about the demographics of who’s using telehealth, something the first study notes.
These confusing results unfortunately make it hard to draw any specific conclusions - except for one very important general one: When setting up a telemedicine or telehealth platform, it’s important to consider ways to make it accessible to all patients.
5. 1 in 5 Americans have used telehealth in 2022.
According to the US Census Bureau, more than 1 in 5 American patients have used telehealth in 2022.
While this is a slight decrease from the 26% of US patients in 2021, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, it shows that telehealth seems to be here to stay.
In fact, another study shows that 76% of patients who’ve used telehealth for a medical consultation would like to use it again.
As 2022 continues, it will be interesting to see how telehealth evolves. One thing is for certain: Whether or not we know the precise difference between “telehealth” and “telemedicine,” both are now a part of healthcare for many of us. Hopefully, laws will be passed and changes will be made to keep them accessible to as much of the population as possible.
Contact Our Writer – Alysa Salzberg