Telehealth is the delivery of healthcare services through the use of communication and medical technologies, such as audio conferencing, videoconferencing, and other web-based applications. It represents a transformation in the practice of medicine, public health, and healthcare management.
Telehealth promises to fulfill the growing demand for healthcare services, especially in the face of geographical and other types of constraints.
Telehealth is here to stay as it ensures that patients don’t miss their appointments as often as they do in in-person settings. Further, it also saves a lot of time, energy, and costs by letting doctors treat patients remotely. Consider the enormity of the cost-saving that’s possible if telehealth continues to augment traditional in-person health checkups.
Telehealth is only poised to grow larger with the widespread adoption of technological practices.
Let’s now discuss some of the benefits of telehealth and why we need it now more than ever.
1. It reduces hospital times
Getting appointments is no longer a straightforward process. The Covid-19 outbreak has put a dent in the employee numbers of the healthcare industry. Staffing shortages are causing the healthcare industry to miss its basic healthcare targets, much less those related to quality care.
Personnel shortage is the underlying reason behind why wait times have increased in hospitals, and the situation can be desperate in cases of emergencies.
If not tended to in a timely fashion, the crisis can worsen.
The future of healthcare and nursing is leaning heavily toward more and more technology adoption. Technology can speed up processes and improve accuracy. To illustrate, the nursing profession now requires its professionals to stay on top of the latest nursing trends that are rooted in tech-driven knowledge.
Longer sitting times at the hospital waiting rooms can be replaced by a quick medical checkup by your nurse on a videocall.
Telehealth allows at-risk people or those with serious illnesses to immediately get the medical attention that their condition calls for.
It allows doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers to provide treatment at a faster clip than traditional methods of providing care. Due to the obvious absence of limitations, such as geographical, anyone can get treated, from anywhere, almost at any time.
2. It protects medical personnel and patients from infections
Germs can spread easily among the patients themselves and the medical staff. Statistics show that nearly 5-10% of patients get hospital-acquired infections every year in the United States.
Telehealth technologies allow doctors and nurses to treat patients remotely, with the same care but without the same risks. Doctors can make informed diagnosis on videocalls and by looking at your medical records.
Putting the distance between themselves and the patients, everyone gets the protection from infections that they need. The patients, too, get protected from other patients that might intermingle in a hospital setting.
3. Rural communities can gain access to better healthcare
The developed world has pulled leagues ahead of the developing world in terms of an even distribution of healthcare services across their populations.
However, the irony is that rural communities may now have better internet service than access to quality healthcare.
Telehealth leverages access to the Internet to provide an easy access to healthcare services in these remote areas.
Not only can these communities now access healthcare but they can also ensure that it is qualitative healthcare as well, as they can reach out to qualified doctors at will.
Telehealth services also reduce the need for travel and taking leaves from work in patients from the remote areas, who have to spend time and money to go into city centers to get healthcare services.
4. Facilitates patients with chronic diseases and disabilities
A patient with a chronic condition needs an ongoing care plan from their physician based on regular check-ups.
Telemedicine allows patients with chronic illnesses to stay connected with their doctors, so their condition is managed effectively, whereas, traditional appointment-based check-ups can put unnecessary burden and stress on these patients.
Instead of driving to the hospital once every few weeks, the patient can easily book an appointment online with their care physician.
Telehealth facilitates disabled people in getting care by reducing their need for travel, which can not only be costly in their case but also puts undue stress on them and an added responsibility on those around them.
5. Reduces hospital running costs
Telehealth reduces the need for hospital admissions and visits by providing online access to the care specialists. This study shows that telehealth brought down costs in patient care by 61% from January 2020 to February 2021.
Due to the use of latest technology, many people wrongly assume that the costs for telehealth may be higher, but apart from the one-offs incurred at the installation phase, there are little to no running costs whatsoever.
Cost savings can benefit the entire healthcare industry as more money can be channeled into useful areas, such as R&D, employee salary increments, and other measures of public and private health.
6. It has improved health outcomes
A research by the National Library of Medicine, that was conducted into 3,454 American households, found that 50% of the families surveyed used telehealth services and a whopping 86% of those showed satisfaction in the care they received.
Telehealth has improved patient outcomes when compared to traditional care models, including higher rates of adherence to treatment plans and lower readmission rates after surgeries.
Patients’ satisfaction with the healthcare services provided almost always ensures a strict follow through on the physicians’ care instructions.
With an easier access to the physicians, patients can remain in close touch with them and make care plan readjustments on a timely basis.
The online healthcare industry is growing at a fast clip, making healthcare accessible, affordable, and integrated. The developments on this front will definitely lead to huge cost savings, ensuring that valuable investments go toward R&D and other projects of modern health. While there are some inherent risks involved in telemedicine—concerns relating to privacy, accessibility, and security—as long as stringent guidelines are implemented and followed, telehealth should continue to help millions.