COVID-19 changed a lot of things for so many people; some even learned a thing or two.
In the world of healthcare, telehealth became almost commonplace during the height of the pandemic last spring.
Dr. Health Penland, Medical Director at North Alabama Psychiatric Associates, said the clinic was a bit limited early on when it came to utilizing telehealth, but not because of a lack of internet service.
“A lot of that was limited by reimbursement and fortunately, most of the insurers recognized the situation and were really good about opening up and allowing for patients and providers to be able to connect through telehealth,” he explained.
Since adopting the technology, Professional Counselor James Taylor said it’s had some benefits.
“It’s allowed us to be able to reach out to some people that maybe would’ve not sought out mental health help before,” he stated.
But as with everything digital, there are drawbacks – what happens when the internet crashes or isn’t necessarily high-speed and reliable?
Penland said the connectivity issues taught the clinic a lesson that many have learned with all the shifts between virtual and in-person learning.
“Being adaptable, we roll with it. If we can’t get connected with teleconference, well, let’s switch to telephone,” he added.
Since Alabama has begun re-opening, Taylor said he’s seen a 50-50 mix of in-person and virtual visits.
Penland has been a bit surprised at the way patients at the clinic have utilized both old and new ways of getting help for mental health issues.
“Some people who you think would be the ones who would be the first to adopt telehealth – they want to be here in person,” he stated. “And then we have other people that – I don’t know [with] their background and what they have, are they going to be able to [use it] – they’re the ones that sometimes use it the most.”
Whether it’s in-person, by phone, or virtually, there’s help for those who need it.