Visiting the Doctor from Your Living Room: Telehealth in Everyday Life

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged many aspects of everyday interactions, often rendering more difficult what we previously might have taken for granted. Going to the grocery store, visiting relatives, and attending school have been different for many people than in the days before the unfolding of the public health crisis. Amidst these challenges, however, innovators also have been looking for opportunities to improve our social infrastructure. We can draw inspiration from the creative solutions many sectors are implementing.

The provision of health care for people has evolved during the past century in many ways as new medicines and procedures and organizational consolidation have transformed the experiences of interacting with clinicians. Recently, some organizations have embraced the possibilities of using electronic technologies to facilitate visits between patients and clinicians who are miles apart and to allow clinicians to monitor their patients in ways never before possible.

We recently talked with Dr. Saira Haque about her work to understand the barriers and opportunities for telehealth. She’s reported to the U.S. Congress on the topic and has worked as an information specialist for health care systems. She’s optimistic about the future but also quite aware of the hurdles we still face, something about which we were reminded even in taping our episode remotely amidst the physical distancing rules many organizations have been using as tools to address COVID-19.

You can listen to Saira’s thoughts here. Her work offers a good example of the ways that social science can help bring us together even when public health challenges threaten to keep us apart.

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