A Teen’s Map to Telehealth
Telehealth allows patients to see their doctors and receive health services over the internet with video chats and other technology. Over this past year we have seen an increase in these types of services with technology mostly because of safety concerns with the pandemic. Many are probably unfamiliar with the term telehealth but have experienced it in their life some way or another. Telehealth can be talking in real time with your provider through video calls or a chat software. Your provider can monitor your health remotely by monitoring your heart rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs. Even your data can be collected and stored for another specialist to look at later. All are forms of telehealth.
There are many different reasons to use telehealth. For example, if you are an at-risk patient who can't go to appointments face-to-face for health reasons, if you live in an isolated place where your care is far away, or even if you are just on a tight schedule.
One of the most helpful services that telehealth can provide is mental health services. You can get therapy online for depression and/or anxiety. You can also get psychiatric services online as well for certain conditions. The increased privacy that telehealth and provide especially helps with services like these. As does being able to talk to a professional in the comfort of your own home and even having access to have those sessions last minute or at an unusual time.
Sexual and Reproductive Health Services
There is a broad range of sexual and reproductive health services you can get through telehealth; contraceptives, sexually transmitted infection (STI) care, men's and women’s preventative health care, and consultations. You can even get birth control delivered to your door through websites like Planned Parenthood Direct, The Pill Club, Nurx, GoodRx Care, and more. For most websites you just have to fill out some questions to get started.
Teens Use of Telehealth
As teens we may have seen telehealth being used before but nothing like it is now. With more appointments over video calls, the increase of telehealth has skyrocketed due to COVID. Oftentimes teens feel more comfortable using telehealth to talk to their doctors. We are able to open up to them as a trusted adult and talk about sexual and mental health. Having the one-on-one time can make it even better for the doctor to know their patient better.
The teen patient and their guardian must consent to see their pediatrician using telehealth unless the teen has reached the age of consent in their state that allows them to consent to medical services and treatment without their guardians permission. If seeing your doctor with telehealth is not covered in your insurance or for confidentiality reasons you don’t want to use your insurance, most practices will allow teens (and other patients) to pay in other ways.
With new technologies expanding everyday as well as new precautions with COVID-19, telehealth services have increased with demand. If you feel uncomfortable going in person to your health care provider, telehealth can be a great option. With the number of services that can be provided with telehealth it is hard to turn it down.
Chloe Bautista is a senior at Walt Whitman High School in Maryland. She is a member of the field hockey team and a part of the Girl Up club. She plans to study public policy and digital analytics in college and is interning at Power to Decide to spread the awareness of the non-profit.