Telehealth, sometimes referred to as telemedicine, is a means of using telecommunication technologies for delivering and enhancing healthcare between patients and healthcare providers. Patients can use computers and mobile devices to access health care files and health care services remotely.
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In today's on-demand world, consumers have the luxury of receiving information and services almost instantaneously. It comes as no surprise that patients are looking for the same accessibility when it comes to healthcare services.
The rapid growth of telehealth in the healthcare industry supports the notion that consumers do in fact expect more convenience from their healthcare providers, and will contact physicians more often if a more convenient method is provided to them.
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth, sometimes referred to as telemedicine, is a means of using telecommunication technologies for delivering and enhancing healthcare between patients and healthcare providers. This communication can happen in real-time or as a store-and-forward manner.
In the real-time communication scenario, a patient and a healthcare practitioner may communicate through a live audio or video feed via phone, webcam, or some other technological means. In the store-and-forward example, a patient's digital images or exam results may be transmitted to a healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
All telehealth systems require health information technology (health IT) such as the use of electronic health records (EHRs) or clinical decision support systems (CDSSs). The telehealth application also includes features such remote patient monitoring and mobile health.
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) uses electronic tools to record personal health and medical data in one location for review by a healthcare professional in office.
Mobile health (mHealth) includes healthcare and public health information provided through mobile devices. The information may include general educational information, targeted texts, and notifications about disease outbreaks.
Examining the Benefits of Telehealth
Telehealth offers many benefits to consumers and healthcare facilities. Improved access to physicians, healthcare services, and quality of care are among the top benefits for consumers. Not only does it provide time-saving access to healthcare, but it also creates an accessible means by which individuals can receive the care they need even if patient and physician are thousands of miles apart.
In addition to being beneficial to consumers, healthcare professionals have much to gain from telehealth as well. Telehealth can assist hospitals, healthcare organizations and emergency care centers to deal with the shortage of healthcare professionals in a present and effective way. Health institutions and care groups are able to access and care for patients in remote locations or in emergency situations with their existing, and sometimes limited, staff.
The accessibility telehealth provides also permits healthcare organizations to save time and develop better training materials to staff. Telehealth technologies store patient information in an organized manner, such as their reason for establishing contact and how they are managing their chronic diseases, allowing health practitioners to compare or update patient records for better medical decision-making, which leads to a more efficient workflow and improved patient care.
Cost efficiencies may be the biggest determining factor for healthcare facilities when questioning should telehealth technologies be implemented. Telemedicine has been shown to reduce the cost of healthcare and increase efficiency through better management of chronic diseases, shared health professional staffing, reduced travel times, and fewer or shorter.
A Connected Care Continuum
By adopting telehealth, healthcare providers can serve more patients and establish long-lasting relationships with them. This creates recurring revenue as patients will be more likely to reach out to providers who can accommodate to the needs and convenience of their patients without sacrificing on quality of care.
Telehealth also allows providers and patients to consult with specialized physicians to obtain further training or expert opinion, saving on travel time, and expenses.
In short, telehealth has great potential for advancing medical treatment to remote patients or to those that are managing chronic diseases. This technology has shown that providers can do more with limited resources by sharing professional staff across health networks, improve efficiency through better diagnosis and management of diseases, provide quality care, and reduce overall costs.
It is an effective tool that healthcare organizations should consider adopting to meet the ever-changing demands of the healthcare industry and patients. For more information on telehealth and telemedicine development services, request a consultation and find out what areas you stand to benefit from Telehealth technology.
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