Benefits of Telemedicine, Telehealth and telemedicine are terms that are frequently used interchangeably. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, telehealth is a subset of e-health and is defined as the use of telecommunications technology in health care delivery, information, and education. Telemedicine is a subset of telehealth that explicitly pertains to clinical services, medical education, remote patient monitoring, patient consultation through videoconferencing, wireless health applications, and transmission of imaging and medical reports are all services covered under telehealth and telemedicine.
Telemedicine has a number of advantages for patients as well as healthcare practitioners. Telemedicine services can provide access to a wide range of treatment alternatives, including primary care consultations, psychotherapy, physical therapy, and even emergency services.
Many people use telemedicine with their usual healthcare provider. Others access virtual care using a dedicated telemedicine app. According to Software Advice’s research, 70-75 percent of survey respondents want to try telemedicine. Telemedicine has been utilized in some form or another for decades, but it is just now becoming more widely accepted.
Telehealth technologies are increasingly being adopted and deployed as a cost-effective and efficient means of delivering and receiving high-quality health-care services and outcomes. Telemedicine has the potential to cut health-care spending in the United States by reducing issues such as medication misuse, unneeded ER visits, and prolonged hospitalizations.
Telehealth can be delivered in one of three ways:
- Synchronous—when the doctor communicates with the patient in real time via computer or telephone
- Asynchronous—when data, images, or messages are recorded to share with the doctor later
- Remote patient monitoring—when measurements such as weight or blood pressure are sent to the health care provider
In this unprecedented time of crisis, COVID-19 posed numerous obstacles to the health-care sector as a whole. Many adjustments in practice paradigms were required in order to safely and efficiently care for patients with and without COVID-19. As a result, many settings, both inpatient and outpatient, have quickly shifted to telehealth models. Patients and providers had to immediately adjust to telehealth models in order to prevent and decrease the spread of COVID-19.
What can telehealth be used for?
With the use of telehealth, all of the following activities and services are possible:
- Taking and reporting measurements such your weight, food intake, blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels to your doctor, either manually or by a wearable gadget.
- Using your computer or smartphone to have a virtual visit with your doctor or nurse.
- Checking your test results, requesting prescription refills, sending a message to your doctor, or scheduling an appointment via an online portal.
- All of the providers you see should have access to your test findings, diagnoses, prescriptions, and drug allergies.
- Coordinating your treatment with your primary care provider and any specialists you see, including sharing test results between medical offices in different locations.
What are the potential benefits of Telemedicine?
Telehealth has been shown to overcome barriers to health care caused by patient-provider distance, access to reliable transportation, fragmentation of care due to gaps in time between appointments, and a lack of available providers.
Cost savings, convenience, and the ability to provide care to persons with mobility constraints or those in remote areas who don’t have access to a local doctor or clinic can be benefited from health-care services. Currently, 76 percent of hospitals in the United States use telehealth to connect doctors and patients remotely, up from 35 percent a decade ago.
Telemedicine improves quality of health-care delivery
Patients with both physical and mental health concerns can benefit from telemedicine. Patients with telemedicine, according to a recent study, had:
- Hospital admissions are down by 38%.
- Readmissions to hospitals are down by 31%.
- 63 percent less likely to be in the hospital for a longer period of time
You can better manage your medicine, lifestyle, and other chronic diseases you may have if you can see your doctor as often as you need to without the inconveniences of getting into the office.
Control of Infectious Diseases
Doctors can use telehealth sessions to test patients for possible infectious disease to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, flu, and other infectious diseases. It also eliminates the need for unwell workers to come to work. People who are chronically ill, pregnant, old, or immunocompromised benefit from less exposure to other people’s germs.
Some specialized practitioners may benefit from telemedicine because they can see you in your own home. Allergists, for example, may be able to spot triggers in your environment that cause allergies. Neurologists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists can examine your abilities to manoeuvre and care for yourself at home. Telemedicine can also be used for mental health evaluations and counselling.
Telemedicine reduces healthcare costs
Telemedicine can improve care delivery efficiency, save costs of caring for patients or transporting them to a different location, and even keep patients out of the hospital. In fact, telemedicine care was found to save 19 percent on inpatient care costs in one research.
According to recent studies, persons who use telemedicine spend less time in the hospital, which saves money. Additionally, less travel time could mean lower secondary costs like daycare and gas.
Primary Care and the Management of Chronic Diseases
Primary care practitioners, such as those who specialize in family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics, should be seen on a regular basis to ensure your family’s health. It’s simple to communicate with a doctor or nurse practitioner via telemedicine. Some systems are set up such that new patients can be scheduled with the next practitioner available, which can save time.
Chronic disease management is a top priority for both healthcare providers and patients. Cancer, type 2 diabetes, and chronic heart disease are all examples of chronic diseases that last three months or longer. According to studies, around 130 million Americans – or roughly 40% of the population – suffer from a chronic ailment.
However, when health care providers can remotely monitor a patient’s status, they will be able to determine whether or not the patient is adhering to treatment requirements.
Telemedicine Improves Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)
RPM is a method of collecting diagnostic and other types of health data from patients in one location and securely transmitting it to health care facilities in another location for evaluation and recommendations. This type of service enables a physician to maintain better track of a patient’s medical information after they’ve been discharged from the hospital, reducing the number of hospitalizations, readmissions, and lengths of stay—all of which improve quality of life and lower costs. Vital signs, blood oxygen levels, blood pressure, weight, blood sugar, and electrocardiograms, among other things, can be captured using analytical and information technology.
Online psychiatric assistance
Many people have found it difficult to see therapists in person because of COVID-19. Telemedicine has enabled persons suffering from stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns to begin or continue receiving therapeutic therapy.
Psychiatric care in an emergency
People who are having a mental health crisis, such as those who are in danger of self-harm, can reach out to a therapist or psychiatrist at any time of day or night.
Brian William Hasselfeld, M. (n.d.). Benefits of Telemedicine. Retrieved from Johns Hopkins Medicine: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/benefits-of-telemedicine
Definitive Guide to Telemedicine. (n.d.). Retrieved from Chiron Health: https://chironhealth.com/definitive-guide-to-telemedicine/telemedicine-info-patients/advantages-telemedicine-patients/
Jeffrey A. Corbett, a. J. (2020, September). Telemedicine can revolutionize the treatment of chronic disease. Retrieved from NCBI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7490579/
Pelkowski, S. N. (2021, February). Telehealth Benefits and Barriers. Retrieved from NCBI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7577680/
Watson, S. (2020, October 12). Telehealth: The advantages and disadvantages. Retrieved from Harvard Health Publishing: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/telehealth-the-advantages-and-disadvantages