How telemedicine supports the health needs of growing teens – Jamaica Observer

TECHNOLOGY is taking over and telemedicine is just one way that the health-care sector has taken advantage of this phenomenon.
Many conversations around telemedicine underscore the benefits of it for adult patients; however, teens can also gain large benefits from the offerings of telemedicine platforms such as MDLink.
A teenager is any person between the ages of 13-19, this period may also be referred to as adolescence as it represents the onset of puberty. During puberty, the body undergoes several changes preparing it for reproductive maturity. This period may feel unsettling for the growing teen, but also for the parents who are not sure how to guide and support them through this time. Telemedicine offers remote support for teens who may need health-care treatment for physical, emotional and mental challenges.
The following are a few ways teens can take advantage of telemedicine:
• Support through general health concerns. Whether it be a cold, a rash or even pains such as girls’ menstrual cramps, teens can take advantage of telemedicine services as much as adults can. Teens can talk one-on-one with their doctors through the offerings of telemedicine such as voice call, text or video call, with permission from their parents. Parents may still offer input if necessary or teens may talk to their doctors on their own — whichever makes both child and parents most comfortable. They may find a safe space, use their headphones, and discuss with their doctor any health issues they may be having. Tech-savvy teens may find comfort in using the Internet for their treatment. Additionally, those with busy parents can get treatment without having to fit an in-person appointment into their busy schedules.
• Teens gain access to health care in rural areas. While many rural areas may not have access to specialist paediatricians or any state-of-the-art health-care facility for miles, many teens do have access to smart devices and the Internet. Therefore, teens will be able to use the technology they use every day to take care of their health and possibly even help members of their families that aren’t too keen on using technology. This eliminates travelling long distances as well as long waits to get in-person visits from specialists.
• Easy and relatable access to mental health services. Teens may not only need support through physical changes but with anxiety and stress stemming from school, home life and general insecurities, including self-confidence, that come with growing up. Giving teens the opportunity to have a trained mental health physician they can talk to virtually provides key support to those that need it. They need only to find a safe and private area where they can discuss their problems and receive the recommended treatment and guidance to overcome their challenges.
• Support and advice through the changes of adolescence. Parents and teens alike may find it uncomfortable to discuss the changes happening in adolescence. This may include physical and hormonal changes. Helping teens understand how to prepare is important for managing this period of their lives. Additionally, your doctor can discuss with them about their reproductive health and offer sex education to ensure they transition through this period safely and carefully. Telemedicine provides a safe space to educate and encourage growing teens to make knowledgeable decisions about their health. It may, in turn, help teens feel more comfortable discussing their health with medical professionals and their parents. Ultimately, it ensures that teens understand there is nothing for them to worry about as they go through the phases of adolescence.
As the world changes the needs of the next generation also change. Therefore, offering more varied means to access health care is of prime importance. Telemedicine allows health care to meet teens halfway and have their needs met in a way that they find accessible and convenient. Encouraging the use of telemedicine by teens will not only support its use and importance as they get older, but provides a fundamental form of support and quality health care during a fundamental period. For parents, if you are unsure how your child can benefit from telemedicine or how you should guide them using this, you may reach out to your doctor and discuss with them the possibilities.
Dr Ché Bowen, a digital health entrepreneur and family physician, is the CEO & founder of MDLink, a digital health company that provides telemedicine options. Check out the company’s website at www.theMDLink.com. You can also contact him at drchebowen@themdlink.com.
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