Guest Blog: The Role of Telehealth: A Balanced Approach

By Kendra Martello, Neurocrine Biosciences

The pandemic provided an opportunity for telehealth utilization to explode as patients and providers adopted virtual visits in lieu of in-person care. But as the world embraces the new normal, patients and providers alike want to be sure that care is not just accessible – that it’s also still high-quality. As part of an October 5 panel on “The New Role of Telehealth,” Randy Rutta, CEO of the National Health Council, joined me and Linda Mimms, a Schizophrenia & Psychosis Action Alliance Board Member, to explore how we can balance convenience and quality for maximum patient benefit. 

As Randy shared, one certainty in the equation for patient benefit is that patients, conditions, and care are not “one size fits all.” Indeed, different patients have different needs at different times in their care journeys: telehealth is appropriate for some patients and conditions at some times, while in others it is a great complement to in-person care. Some types of care, such as follow-up appointments, routine care, and maintenance visits for people with well-managed chronic conditions, are well suited for the convenience and capabilities of telehealth.

In-person visits, however, help ensure that patients receive the screening, diagnosis, and care they need – and they can also facilitate patient comfort and help in building a doctor-patient relationship. In fact, patients express a preference for in-person care, with 80% saying they would always pick seeing their doctor in the office rather than virtually.1 As we have all seen over the past 18 months, however, this is not always possible.

Linda and Randy agreed that, regardless of setting, care must safeguard the highest standards of medical care, be patient-centered and physician-guided, and have the optionality and flexibility to ensure care is tailored to a patient and his or her condition. As Linda noted, it is important that any laws regulating telehealth take this delicate balance into account. To hear more from Randy and Linda, as well as lawmakers who participated in the “The New Role of Telehealth” event, please visit The Hill’s website.

Kendra Martello is Executive Director of Public Policy at Neurocrine Biosciences. Neurocrine Biosciences is an NHC member and supported the NHC’s listening session research on telehealth.