During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people used virtual visits to connect with healthcare providers. While this practice remains important, several factors need to be considered. Telehealth is a broad term that includes telecommunications technologies for long-distance patient and clinician contact, care, reminders and advice. Some examples include:
People are accustomed to streamlined customer experiences powered by technology in other industries. Traditionally, healthcare hasn’t used technology in the same way. Still, virtual visits and smartphone consultations make it easier for patients to get care and keep appointments without leaving their homes. It helps overcome other impediments to care, such as a lack of transportation access or inability to take time off work. A physician leader at a large medical group recently told me he receives multiple personal text messages from friends and family members asking him for advice on various healthcare issues. It demonstrates that telehealth services redefine the patient experience and provide convenient, valuable patient care.
Telehealthcare appointments are a great option for patients with chronic conditions requiring regular follow-up. These appointments help patients manage their symptoms and avoid costly hospitalizations by driving their condition early and at home. Telehealth services also increase efficiency for healthcare providers. A physician who can conduct real-time virtual office visits or phone consultations can serve more patients in less time, which means they can save money on overhead and travel expenses. It can also allow for fewer patient cancellations due to scheduling conflicts. And if your telehealth solution supports interoperability, patients can connect with specialists and primary care physicians to ensure a seamless patient journey.
Increasing Access to Care
Telehealth services such as telemedicine Oklahoma are an excellent way to increase access to healthcare for vulnerable populations. Thousands of medically or socially vulnerable Americans find it difficult to attend in-person appointments due to their condition or location. It includes people covered by Medicaid and Medicare, the two programs serving half of Americans. Telehealth can reduce the number of patients who visit emergency departments for non-urgent health issues. It can help save hospitals a great deal of money. During the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of in-person doctors’ visits and healthcare check-ups were replaced with phone or video chats with providers. Telehealth is a valuable tool for increasing continuity of care, particularly for older people. It allows them to maintain the same level of care and avoids disrupting their daily routines.
Telehealth can also help reduce the number of patients who cancel or miss their appointments. It can be caused by various factors, including being busy, sick, or forgetting their appointment. Talking to a provider via telehealth can eliminate many of these excuses and encourage patients to follow through with their appointments. Another use of telehealth is to increase access to specialty care in rural communities. It is especially beneficial for small rural hospitals and clinics, which may need help attracting specialist physicians to their facilities. It can also be helpful for tertiary care centers, which can use telehealth to avoid patient transfers from smaller hospitals that lack on-site specialty doctors.
Telehealth is a healthcare method that allows patients to communicate with their providers online rather than during an in-person office visit. The technology is based on telecommunications and can be used via phone, video chat or other devices such as tablets or computers. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government, states, and several private insurance companies have increased access to telehealth services to enable more people to obtain the care they require without traveling. During a telehealth visit, patients can expect to talk with their provider about their symptoms over the phone or through a live video call. Many telehealth applications are designed specifically to deliver telehealth services. Still, some popular platforms, once reserved for personal use, can be used for compliant telehealth as long as they don’t allow anyone other than the intended parties to communicate.
Because telehealth allows patients to access care without traveling, it reduces the risk of contracting the coronavirus from other people who may be contagious. It is especially helpful for vulnerable populations, such as seniors, chronically ill, or pregnant women, who are more likely to contract the virus and be hospitalized. Seeing their doctors via telehealth is also a safe way for patients to check in after a hospital stay and address any concerns, reducing the likelihood of readmission.
When used properly, telehealth can decrease costs for patients and healthcare providers. Patients don’t need to travel as far to in-person appointments, which saves on gas and other travel expenses. Providers can also reduce overhead costs by eliminating the need for office space and equipment. Additionally, telehealth services can help to lower healthcare insurance costs, as patients may be able to avoid costly in-person visits or unnecessary tests. Several studies have shown that telehealth can be cost-effective for managing chronic conditions. For example, using telehealth for high-risk pregnancies can save staff travel and home visit expenses and reduce the need for tertiary care and hospitalizations. Similarly, remote monitoring of long-term or serious health problems such as diabetes or heart disease can reduce the need for in-person monitoring visits, cutting costs and improving patient outcomes.