ICYMI: Telehealth Is A Valuable Resource For Arthritis Patients, Congress Must Protect This Access
Telehealth is a Popular and Successful Tool for Managing Chronic Care for Arthritis
In case you missed it, May is Arthritis Awareness Month. Arthritis impacts nearly 60 million U.S. adults, leaving them with reduced mobility and independence and requiring them to attend more frequent doctors’ appointments to manage their care. As the nation’s population ages, the number of arthritis patients will continue to increase, making it imperative that these patients have access to essential care avenues, including telehealth.
Telehealth can be a vital resource for arthritis patients because of its accessibility, cost, and convenience. There is a large shortage of arthritis specialists today, making it more difficult for patients to attend in-person appointments. This issue is alleviated with the use of telehealth, which brings care into a patient’s home, reducing the time and physical effort it would take to travel far distances to a specialist’s office, a monumental change for patients who may have discomfort due to their condition. By integrating telehealth into arthritis treatment, clinical visits can be reduced by 69.9 percent. This time-saving measure reduces costs by eliminating travel expenses and providing more budget-friendly care options.
Rheumatoid arthritis patients like Melissa Phelps attend telehealth appointments to receive the specialized care they need. The closest specialist to Melissa is between 60 and 100 miles away, which makes in-person appointments almost impossible to attend with her schedule. “Receiving telehealth has given me the freedom of knowing it’s only a phone call away,” Melissa says. “It’s having a whole crew that can work for you like 100 miles away to right here in your hometown. It’s like a network of loving, caring people.”
Telehealth has been shown to be beneficial for chronic health condition management and helps support patients who regularly attend care appointments by allowing them to have more freedom and independence in their care routine. Alisa Vidulich Casavant, MPH, policy director at the Arthritis Foundation, highlights this advantage saying, “Telehealth has expanded access to care for millions of people, allowing rural patients to receive vital services, reducing health inequities, and can increase access to specialized care for diagnoses like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, to name a few.”
According to one study from the University of Rochester and Rochester Regional Health, nearly three out of four rheumatoid arthritis patients surveyed responded they had a positive overall impression of telehealth care. Lindsey Viscarra, public policy manager for the International Foundation for Autoimmune & Autoinflammatory Arthritis (AiArthritis), emphasized this support saying, “Telehealth is an invaluable tool that allows arthritis patients to get the access to care they need, regardless of any disabilities from their disease, time, or distance. It’s a game changer for people with AiArthritis diseases nationwide.”
Congress must act now to permanently safeguard telehealth access and create lasting protections for the millions who rely on telehealth to receive care, including people with arthritis.
Learn more about how Congress can act to permanently protect telehealth access HERE.
ABOUT TELEHEALTH ACCESS FOR AMERICA
Telehealth Access for America (TAFA) is a public education campaign supported by leaders in health care committed to better care, expanded patient choice, and protecting access to critical telehealth services. Learn more and take action today at www.telehealthaccessforamerica.org.