You probably video chat or FaceTime your friends and family but, what about your healthcare provider? The adoption of telehealth in healthcare systems around the globe is making this an increasingly common occurrence—especially during our current global pandemic. In the following post, we outline what telehealth entails, its vast benefits, and its place in the future!

 

Defining Telehealth

Telehealth is the term used to describe healthcare services that incorporate telecommunication technologies to provide remote care to patients. Unlike telemedicine, this type of virtual healthcare extends beyond providing patient consultations. It includes remote medical education and planning or administrative meetings as well. There are limitations though. Telehealth services may not be beneficial in cases where in-depth examinations, medical testing, or surgery are required.

The method by which a physician carries out their telehealth services may vary. Healthcare professionals may use video conferencing tools, media streaming, phone calls, emails, or a combination of these to provide care to patients safely and efficiently.

 

Telehealth Benefits

      • Increases Healthcare Access

In many rural and impoverished communities, there is a lack of available healthcare. Individuals in these areas have two choices, travel to find medical care or receive care at a local clinic. The issue with traveling is that many individuals may not have a vehicle or money to pay for the trip. The problem with clinics is that they are often expensive and provide only minimal care. Telehealth allows these individuals to receive healthcare without leaving home. It also allows them to save on money and see a specialist should they need one. For rural communities, telehealth is a promising solution to a genuine problem.

      • Facilitates Appointments

Telehealth appointments allow individuals to avoid the hassles that come with attending an in-person medical appointment. For some, finding transportation and parking can be difficult. For others, it is the long wait time that is a nuisance. Telehealth eliminates these items from the equation, making patient appointments more targeted and shorter.

      • Improves Patient Satisfaction

Health systems are reporting high scores when it comes to patient satisfaction following telehealth appointments. This satisfaction is linked to the convenience that these remote services provide. Many physicians feel that telemedicine is an excellent tool for follow-up or routine appointments that require monitoring and adjustments rather than a complete diagnosis. The efficiency of telehealth appointments also allows for a greater patient turnover rate. This means physicians can provide care to a broader audience in less time. Some may be concerned that this could affect the quality of care, but most patients who attend telehealth appointments report that the quality of care remains the same as in-person appointments. Perhaps a more interesting note is that about 25% of individuals who attended a telemedicine appointment felt they received care that was of greater quality.

      • Saves Money

Telehealth appointments can help all parties involved save on finances. Patients don’t have to worry about taking time off work or paying for childcare. They can choose a time that is convenient for them and, in any location, receive the medical attention they need. On a similar note, telehealth appointments bear much lower costs than in-person visits. Physicians and the private practices or hospitals they work at save too. Because telehealth is more convenient, individuals are less likely to cancel, limiting the number of no-show patients.

 

Telehealth in the Future

Although telehealth has been on the healthcare industry’s radar for some time, COVID-19 has put it on the map. Social distancing guidelines have forced hospitals and private practices to implement new methods of providing healthcare, many of which include the use of technology to provide care to hold appointments remotely. The benefits of telehealth have always made a case for its implementation, but it has not been testing to the scale it is now.

Telehealth’s current success, combined with the continuation of social distancing and fatigued medical systems, indicates that telehealth will be a mainstay for some time. This is supported by the projection that in the next six years, virtual health is expected to be worth $95 billion.

 


Interested in an online-telehealth clinical experience?

You can participate in this type of clinical experience from the comfort of your own home. You can also earn a letter of recommendation, further your medical knowledge, and save on costs!

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