What is Telehealth?
Telehealth is the use of digital information and communication technology, such as computers and mobile devices, to remotely access health facilities, and to control your health care. It may be tools that you are using from home, or that your doctor is using to improve or support health care.
For example, consider the ways telehealth can help you if you have diabetes. You could do some or all of the following:
- Watch a video on carbohydrate counting and download an app for it to your phone.
- Order testing supplies and medications online.
- Use a mobile phone or any other device to upload food logs, medications, dosing levels and blood sugar levels for an electronically responsive nurse to review.
- Get a mobile retinal photo screening at your doctor’s office rather than scheduling an appointment with a specialist.
- Use the App to predict how much insulin you need based on your diet and exercise level.
- Get reminders via email, text or phone when you need a flu shot, foot exam or other preventive care.
- See your test results, schedule appointments, request prescription refills or email your doctor using the online patient portal.
The Telehealth objectives, also known as e-health or m-health (mobile health), include:
- Provide access to medical specialists.
- Provide support for self-management of health care.
- Allow available health care for people living in rural or isolated communities
- Improve communication and care coordination between healthcare team members and patients.
- Make services more readily available or more convenient for people with limited mobility, time or possibilities of transport.
Telehealth Expands Care Boundaries
Moving well beyond its origins as a way of delivering treatment to people of remote rural areas, telehealth also provides the ability to provide time-saving, cost-effective access for routine, chronic, and emergency care to physicians and specialists. It no longer matters where the state, nationally or even global position of patients or physicians happens.
The use of telehealth continues to increase, as both providers and patients understand the many benefits. For example, telehealth technology allows them to:
- Direct teams of small hospital providers to use emergency treatments, equipment and medicines
- Remotely monitor vital signs of intensive-care patients
- Provide medication-dispensing oversight for pharmacists when required by the state
- Help doctors diagnose and treat stroke patients with time-sensitive protocols remotely
- Reach underserved or challenging populations in prisons, on ships and at military outposts
- Handle routine or follow-up care at corporate and school clinics as a convenience to patients and their families
- Enhance collaboration and communication between physicians, hospitals and affiliated practices
- Educate geographically dispersed clinicians on patient care and medical procedures
- Monitor homebound elderly, chronically ill or postoperative patients to improve care and reduce readmissions, without requiring difficult trips to clinics or a physician’s office
- Widen in-hospital and local access to specialist care, from psychiatrists to neurologists to oncologists
- Provide remote triage care to evaluate the severity of illness or injury and determine the best care facility
Benefits of Telehealth for Clinics
The doctor-patient relationship is changing, and telehealth solutions are facilitating a new way of communicating that benefits both parties. By connecting with their doctors virtually, patients can save time, eliminate travel, and gain quicker diagnoses. For the provider, virtual communication can drive additional revenue, increase productivity, and allow for more flexible working arrangements. While not an exhaustive list, here’s a closer look at these benefits.
Additional Revenue –
Ggaining access to and having a choice over, high-quality healthcare is something many U.S. citizens take for granted, but for many Americans, there’s no such luxury. Several factors can make it difficult for people to access healthcare, such as having to drive for hours to the nearest hospital, or not being able to drive at all. For these people, often living in remote areas of the country, a mobile telehealth solution that grants them valuable time with a doctor would be a major advantage and almost certainly be a consideration when weighing which provider to use. What’s more, mobile telehealth appointments allow doctors to see more patients than face-to-face appointments might allow, and generate additional revenue from after-hours work that may have previously been provided for free.
It’s no secret that doctors are strapped for time. Mobile telehealth can help minimize wasted time and increase productivity in several distinct ways. For example, because virtual appointments are easier for the patient to attend, the chances of appointments being missed due to travel problems or cancelled due to last-minute commitments are significantly reduced.
Mobile telehealth apps unchain doctors from their offices. Since mobile video appointments can be conducted from virtually anywhere with a secure network connection, at any time, on any day, doctors have greater control over their working hours – and can respond to emergencies in less time and with greater efficiency.
Healthcare as we know it is changing at a rapid rate, and, consequently so are patient expectations. Providers that invest in technology to improve operational efficiency and patient satisfaction will stand the best chance of delivering the ultimate long-term goal – better care for their patients.