Written by: Erin Glenn, LSW, Director of Rural and Emergency Services

In this time of COVID-19 and social distancing people are hearing the term “telehealth” more and more.  Perhaps you have even already experienced telehealth for a visit with your primary care provider, or another health care provider.  It is understandable that during a time of increased fear and anxiety, a new way of accessing our care can seem overwhelming.  Telehealth is far from new though, and has been used with great success long before the days of COVID-19…even right here in Central PA.

Telehealth is a broad term used to describe the delivery of a health related service in a non-face-to-face manner, typically via video and audio transmission.  Other terms which fall into the same definition include: telemedicine, telepsychiatry, teletherapy, etc.  While video transmission may be ideal, telehealth has been broadened to include audio only transmission (i.e. phone calls) to meet the needs of communities during COVID-19 social isolation.

TrueNorth Wellness Services has been utilizing telehealth technology since 2013 to provide Child and Adolescent psychiatry services to the Fulton County community.  Utilizing video conferencing equipment within our office has allowed us to better serve families who previously would have traveled long distances to access psychiatry services for their children.  Reducing travel and increasing access to services in rural areas have always been key benefits of telehealth services.  During COVID-19 precautions though, these aspects have become essential for service delivery.  If one of your providers is offering telehealth services, here are some things to keep in mind and hopefully ease concerns.

  • Telehealth has been utilized for decades in the United States, and the technology has continued to be improved and made more user-friendly.
  • Telehealth has traditionally been rated with high satisfaction not only within the Youth and Young Adult population, but also within the Aging population.
  • Outcomes of telehealth services have traditionally been found to be just as satisfactory, if not more so, than face-to-face services.
  • Staying home right now, when possible, is extremely important. This will reduce your chances of being exposed to COVID-19, and will also put less burden on the medical community. 
  • Telehealth will allow you to have your health concerns addressed in a safe manner and continue to be prescribed necessary medications to keep you well.
  • Telehealth allows individuals to still connect with someone during a time when loneliness can also be a concern.

In short, allow your health care professionals and supports to guide you on the safest way to delivery care to you.  Telehealth is one opportunity to better keep our Central PA communities well and strong!