Two experts speak on the benefits of telehealth

They both agree telehealth needs to remain an option for patients long after the COVID-19 pandemic is over
Published: Jan. 18, 2021 at 5:27 PM MST
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Since March, many people have been going to the doctor online through telehealth.

While it may have been an inconvenience for some, in rural areas telehealth has been beneficial.

Dr. Toby Anderton at North Canyon Medical Center said while it took some getting used to, telehealth has been beneficial.

“When the state pushed down on us and said you need to disperse and change, we made a group effort, to how can we continue to care for these patients that we are already taking care of, that have severe injuries, those that have severe pain, how can we continue to manage them?” Anderton said.

As an orthopedic surgeon, he was able to see patients through a screen, keeping the patients healthy and his practice open.

“We still had visits, and we still sat down and had those conversations, and still were able to prescribe the medications they need, create the plans in order to take care of the problems they had, write prescriptions for therapy or educate them on the things they need to do to rehab their injuries,” Anderton said.

Over at the Department of Health and Welfare Behavioral Health Services, telehealth has increased access to health care.

“The ability to reach the outlying communities and provide services to individuals has increased exponentially,” said Scott Rasmussen, Idaho Health and Welfare Behavioral Health Division Program Manager. “That just wasn’t a possibility before, or it wasn’t utilized or accepted before, now it’s becoming much more acceptable to do this type of behavioral health care.”

It has required a lot of training on how to ensure privacy from both ends of the meeting.

“There are some things to learn about it, but definitely one of the positive outcomes of the pandemic we are in was the widely accepted use of this technology to perform behavioral health services,” Rasmussen said.

They both agree telehealth needs to remain an option for patients long after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

“Absolutely, although there are still some things to work out, there are so many benefits to it, we definitely want it to continue,” Rasmussen said.

“I foresee that it will continue to be a very useful tool, where the Twin Falls area services a much larger community than just here,” Anderton said. “People come from Nevada, from the eastern and western parts of Idaho. And so I see a lot of that continuing to be a positive — to help take care of people that are right here in our communities.”

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