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What is the future of telehealth?

Doctors discuss the positives and negatives of seeing clients through telehealth after having to adjust to the method for over a year.

DES MOINES, Iowa — It's been more than a year of living in a pandemic, which has meant lots of "pivots" and "changing strategies."

The same goes for medical facilities turning to telehealth to continue caring for patients. 

"It's been quite a transition," Dr. Anna Holzer, chief medical officer at DoctorsNow, said. 

Before March 2020, Holzer said her facility was not practicing telemedicine too much, but that quickly changed because of COVID-19.

The change means more access to care for other patients, helping Holzer and other doctors at DoctorsNow to help more people. 

"Maybe they're in a rural area in Iowa and it's hard for them to get to the doctor, or maybe there's not a doctor open that day," Holzer said. "Sometimes access to care can provide a real problem to Iowans. This provides access to healthcare seven days a week."

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This access is something Broadlawns Medical Center Section Chief of Outpatient Behavioral Clinic Dr. Charles Wadle likes.

It's helped cut down on fewer patients being no-shows to their appointments. 

"It went from 30 to 40 percent, down to about 20 to 25 percent," Wadle said.

Telehealth has proved beneficial to their department, but there is a con to it, according to Wadle.

"If someone isn't doing well how do you address that from afar?" he asked. "Unless the support system is there ...The in-person [visits] have that extra relationship development and really connecting."

Holzer and Wadle both agree, telemedicine does not replace in-person visits. But it has helped make sure more Iowans receive some level of care, and think it will be around for the foreseeable future.

Watch: Therapist explains long-term impact of COVID-19 on mental health

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