In-person visits have become a thing of the past now that healthcare providers offer telemedicine services. Put simply, telehealth means medical care is done remotely via a phone call or video chat. The best part is that different medical services are accessible, including physiotherapy, psychology and primary care consultations. Telemedicine gained ground during the COVID-19 pandemic when healthcare providers had to balance quality patient care and find ways to support their personnel. This has brought opportunities in the healthcare sector, enabling those in rural areas to access indispensable services. At the same time, telemedicine benefits those who are homebound or can’t drive to the doctor’s office due to their busy work schedule. Read on to learn more about telehealth.
How does a telehealth appointment work?
Telemedicine appointments differ depending on the healthcare system, but generally, they involve some basic steps. Firstly, patients who want to get in touch with a dedicated clinician must connect to a telemedicine platform. The next step is to review the patient’s medical history and discuss their symptoms. If possible, the healthcare provider may also ask the patient to measure their blood pressure, temperature or heart rate. For a follow-up, patients are asked to keep different monitor devices at home that send real-time results to the doctor. Finally, the doctor will prescribe treatment.
What kind of care is accessible through telehealth?
Telehealth provides access to different types of specialized care and is particularly helpful in evaluating and improving ongoing health conditions like chronic diseases. If you want to learn whether telehealth suits your specific needs, you should consult your healthcare provider.
Generally, remote care includes the following:
- Lab test results;
- Skin conditions;
- Mental health treatment, such as counseling and online therapy;
- Prescription management;
- Physical therapy;
- Post-surgical follow-up, etc.
What are the benefits of telehealth?
In a review from Harvard Business, 84% of respondents said they would choose telemedicine services instead of traditional ones. That’s because patients want to manage their healthcare plan remotely, as this comes with plenty of benefits which we’ll explore below.
It saves time
Whether CT scans or x-rays, waiting for medical results often takes a long time. But this isn’t effective when patients suffer from infectious diseases or chronic illnesses, as waiting too many days can further harm their health. Fortunately, that’s not the case with telehealth. This technology enables the rapid digital transmission of medical data, meaning that patients can acquire the information they need quickly to get the necessary treatment as early as possible. Patients with disabilities can also send samples required for testing and get the results remotely without visiting a clinic.
It reduces costs
Telemedicine also reduces costs associated with trips to the ER, benefiting those who need prescription refills. Through telehealth, patients can get a virtual script from their healthcare provider. Moreover, the appointment cost is also reduced because there are no transportation costs like public transport fares. Telehealth also leads to significant cost savings associated with scheduling inefficiencies and other clinical hurdles.
It boosts access to healthcare services
People living in rural communities face challenges when it comes to accessing healthcare services. But telehealth is here to change that by enabling access to quality patient care through virtual doctor visits. This eliminates barriers like distance, travel time and lack of accessibility to specialist appointments. Patients often have to wait weeks – even months- to schedule a doctor’s appointment. However, telehealth allows them to reach out to a specialist in the most convenient way from their own homes.
It improves health outcomes
Virtual care doesn’t provide a better outcome only for your finances but also for your health. That’s because it enables faster and more proper diagnoses and treatments. Studies have shown that hospital emergency rooms using telehealth services had lower mortality rates. Not only that, but they also experienced fewer hospital admissions.
Ensure your virtual healthcare appointment is successful.
Remote care comes with many benefits, but it also has limitations, so it’s vital to be aware of them. For example, a healthcare provider can’t feel your body during a virtual appointment, which isn’t the case regarding in-person doctor visits. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re considering scheduling a virtual appointment:
- Make sure you have a strong Internet connection. If you want your appointment to succeed without interruptions, check your Internet connection first. Suppose you have poor bandwidth, consider improving your signal or going to a place with good internet connectivity.
- Figure out how the software works. You may need new software for your virtual appointment, so make sure to test it before you meet with your healthcare provider.
- Choose a quiet spot. Whether in your own home or another location, it’s essential to find an area where the background noise is reduced, and you won’t be disturbed.
- Write down your questions. If you had an in-person visit to the doctor, you’d likely make notes. This is just as important for your virtual appointment, so write a list of questions you want to ask your healthcare provider regarding symptoms, test results or treatment.
- Don’t be late. Being on time for the virtual visit isn’t just a courtesy – it’s essential because it ensures you won’t miss the appointment.
- Prioritize safety. During your appointment, you should only focus on talking to your doctor safely. Thus, avoid other activities like using machinery, driving or multitasking.
Telemedicine also benefits healthcare providers.
Virtual care offers many perks to patients, but healthcare providers can also benefit from it considerably. For instance, offering telemedicine services decreases overhead expenses, which means you don’t have to invest in an office space with many exam rooms. Moreover, telemedicine also provides an additional revenue stream for clinicians because they can expand their patient base. Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of telemedicine is that it decreases exposure to infections and illnesses – which can be a concern when seeing patients in person.
Telemedicine is still a relatively new technology, but its future is indeed promising, considering how many benefits it offers to both patients and clinicians. For those who are anxious about leaving their home or deal with chronic medical conditions, remote care makes an entire difference in their health outcome.