Before the pandemic, Amy Hu, MD, a psychiatrist with Banner Health and a UArizona College of Medicine Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, had not utilized telemedicine to see her patients. She says she viewed it as more of a niche application for other healthcare providers.
“I did have some misconceptions about what telehealth was like. I thought that patients may not feel as engaged or connected, or that it might feel a little unnatural compared to meeting in-person.”
However, with the COVID-19 shutdowns in March 2020, the shift to telemedicine was swift. “Our clinic went from seeing all patients in-person to exclusively telehealth almost overnight. Everyone had to adapt pretty quickly.”
As the pandemic wore on, and the rates of substance abuse and mental illnesses increased, telemedicine was imperative to therapy. Even as Banner’s Behavioral Health Clinics are seeing people in person again, there are populations that are very much committed to their telehealth appointments.
Dr. Hu says the feedback she’s received is that “most people find telehealth much more accessible and convenient. It’s been particularly beneficial for some of my Cancer Center patients by slightly easing the burden of time and commuting – given how many oncology, infusion, imaging or lab appointments they have. Some of them appreciate televisits because even physically coming into the building can be a negative experience, they’ll get anxious or nauseous, because their brains have come to associate the building with chemo or receiving bad news.
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