Every industry is affected by emerging technologies, and healthcare is no different. Due to the global coronavirus pandemic, more doctors have been utilizing telemedicine platforms to see patients. In fact, since April, 5% of Americans have used telehealth for the first time.
By helping people talk to doctors at any time, telemedicine provides and improves access to patients nationwide.
Telemedicine is the use of electronic communication, such as video calls, image sharing, or teleconferencing. For these very reasons, telemedicine is reshaping healthcare. Here are some of the ways telemedicine is changing healthcare for the better.
Benefits of Telehealth
Access to Patients
As doctors, you know how difficult it is to see patients and manage time effectively. There is an influx in patients due to shortage of doctors – one that could reach an all-time low in 2030. Since many Americans do not have regular doctors, appointments with primary care doctors as well as specialists get delayed by months. In areas with a greater population, the wait can be even longer. Whether due to resource shortages or a population that is hard to reach, offering telehealth is a convenient care plan for everyone.
While telemedicine cannot solve the shortage of doctors in the U.S., it can help. Physicians are able to offer virtual consultations and provide effective, efficient care. Instead of patients spending time in waiting rooms and having a negative experience in a facility, telemedicine allows patients to be seen in the comfort of their own homes.
Providers and physicians can expand their care and services using telehealth appointments to triage patients and help determine the urgency of their conditions and where they can seek care. There is no longer the issue of travel time, unavailable appointments, or the fear of COVID-19 for patients and physicians to meet.
During COVID-19, many physicians suffered with operating costs and financing because patients were unable to go into the office. Telemedicine offered flexibility in hours while lowering overhead costs. In fact, some practices saved half as much in costs when switching to telemedicine as opposed to on-site doctor’s visits.
Many patients visit facilities for non-critical conditions that can be easily diagnosed or treated via virtual teleconferencing as opposed to expensive in-office appointments. Physicians are able to offer healthcare to a broader demographic for a higher return on investment because of telemedicine.
Telemedicine also transforms the decision-making process for patients and physicians. Instead of waiting for appointment availability to decide what treatments are best suitable, telemedicine lets physicians see more patients in a more efficient, time-sensitive manner. Not only does this increase practice ROI but decreases the overhead costs that it takes to run and manage an in-person clinic.
Increases Patient Monitoring and Engagement
Progress of a patient’s treatment, condition, or illness typically require routine appointments for monitoring and making any changes to medication or treatment plans. With COVID-19 affecting people’s ability and safety to make regular in-office appointments, doctors are relying on telehealth appointments and remote monitoring devices to collect data and monitor a patient’s health.
Early intervention is proven to lead to better care and significant savings by preventing a patient’s condition from worsening. In fact, in 2020, 91% of employers offer telemedicine for their employees because it is less costly than traditional appointment policies regarding insurance.
By remotely diagnosing and monitoring their oxygen levels, range of motion, function, and healing, the risk of them developing and issues are lower. A virtual appointment or consultation saves the physician time and money, as well as the patient.
For patients who struggle with mobility, telehealth allows them to safely make appointments without having to rely on transportation or the risk of being exposed to germs. Chronic conditions often make a person more susceptible for a weakened immune system, which increases their risk of COVID-19 or any other virus.
Modern patients, and even the older generation who has adopted a digital lifestyle appreciate when physicians send digital reminders of appointments, prescription refills, and offer online booking. The convenience of having everything at their fingertips makes patient engagement much higher. The likelihood of patients taking an active role in their health and wellbeing has increased because of virtual healthcare technology. Having the ability to have a video call with their doctor using their phone or mobile device increases the chances of keeping appointments, and engaging with their doctor. This allows doctors to make truly personalized treatment plans for each patient, since there is regular communication.
Moving Ahead with Telehealth
Healthcare has adopted telehealth with open arms and there is no sign of physicians decreasing the amount of virtual appointments they make. If your practice has not gone to a virtual platform or would like more information about how to increase ROI while decreasing overhead costs associated with an in-person clinic, contact our team at Valet Health. Our digital experts will walk you through the changing landscape of healthcare to explain how your practice can be doing more for your patients.