The digital era has changed our lives in countless ways. In what would have been considered sci-fi fantasy just a few years ago, telehealth is now emerging as a way to provide healthcare services to those in the workers' compensation system.
Obviously, we are not to the point where an online doctor can address all the needs of an injured patient, but analysts are seeing signs that telehealth provides a quality healthcare experience for injured workers and payers. This can be done using a tablet, laptop or even video on a smart phone.
Examples of effective use of this format include:
- One-on-one visits with injured workers
- Group conferencing that can involve patient, family, medical staff and attorney
- Treatment during the middle or the end of a recovery where the worker is facing such issues depression or addiction avoidance
- Routine care of less severe injuries such as grade level I or II strains or sprains
Challenges of this approach
Telehealth obviously will not work when medical professionals need a hands-on evaluation - in fact, it may be medical professionals who put up more resistance than the patient. If the patient has doubts about their treatment, they should speak up to get a referral for an in-person diagnosis or treatment.
Finding the right approach
The nature of the injury and where the injured worker lives will have a bearing on how common telehealth care becomes. Here in Southeastern Pennsylvania we are not as isolated from a wide range of specialist physicians as our neighbors in the central part of the state. However, telehealth appointments can be a real time saver for patients, particularly if they have to count on others for transportation. Advocates also claim that the ease of access is more likely to motivate the injured worker to seek help rather than putting it off.
Patients must also feel that they are getting good medical treatment. If an injured person is feeling that the treatment is not working or inappropriate, he or she should consult with an experienced workers' compensation attorney who regularly represents clients here in Pennsylvania. A certified specialist workers' comp attorney will have the experience and knowledge to help resolve the matter.