What is the advantage of telehealth? The outbreak of COVID 19 has cast an uncertain time over the world. It has made social distancing downright essential to prevent the spread of the virus.
No wonder why online services are on the rise than ever before. People are encouraged to opt for online shopping and other mediums. And telehealth services are no exception. In fact, it has become more important than ever. Many healthcare facilities and standalone health services are providing their services virtually or via online platforms.
Also Read: Telehealth During COVID-19 Pandemic
Telehealth, as the name suggests, is the use of electronic mediums or digital technologies, such as mobile devices and computers, to access health care. These might be the devices you use from your place or that your physician utilizes to provide support.
Telemedicine is gaining momentum in healthcare, thanks to the accessibility of high-speed internet and internet-enabled devices. It has become a $17.8 billion industry in the USA.
The key goals of telehealth are to…
- Making healthcare accessible to remote communities.
- Making healthcare services more readily available to people with little to no transportation options or mobility.
- Facilitating access to physicians.
- Enhancing communication and coordination of care among healthcare staff and a patient.
- Supporting self-management of health care.
Here are some main advantages of telehealth for patients:
Eliminating Transportation Time or Costs
The key advantage of telehealth is to help patients in the comfort of their place, thereby minimizing their visits to the clinics.
For example, you can get the care over the phone or computer without having to see the doctor in-person. You don’t need to visit the clinic. This way, telehealth saves you time, hassles, and costs associated with commuting to and fro clinics.
Even better, you save time traveling or risk stuck into a traffic jam that can delay your appointment, or even worse, late getting back to work or other commitments.
Also Read: Difference between Telehealth and Telemedicine
Eliminating the Need to Take Time Off of Office
Let’s accept it. A visit to a doctor not only eats up your time but also sometimes forces you to take off of work. If you are using telehealth services, you are less likely to miss a day of work.
Just open your PC or phone to access your physician. You can share your details with him and get his prescription and other insights.
You can go according to your physician’s follow up instructions and maintain your health without taking off or wasting your valuable paid time off. This is one of the main advantage of telehealth.
Supporting the Health in Remote Areas
There are often little to no healthcare facilities in remote areas. Sometimes, these facilities are away from the population or city.
The use of telehealth services would be useful in this scenario.
It will let the patients access the physicians easily in the comfort of their place. Some patients who require the care of a specialist have to drive long distances and spend a lot of time for each visit.
With the help of telemedicine, it becomes easy to access the specialist who is not nearby. After all, you want to approach the expert, not the closet on in case of having serious health issues.
Also Read: Why should you consider Telemedicine for your Children?
Minimizing the Admissions and Re-admissions
Remote Patient Monitoring or RPM is an important aspect of telehealth to ensure better treatment for those remote patients.
This practice involves the collection, reporting, and assessment of patient health data through electronic devices smartphones, mobile devices, wearables, and internet-enabled personal computers. These devices are used to collect weight, blood pressures, cardiac stats, respiratory rates, and oxygen levels from the patient.
This way, it is easy for physicians to detect if they need immediate medical attention. Patients who opt for RM are less likely to experience hospital admission or other visits as found by the Center for Technology and Aging.
Besides, readmissions can be lowered as RPM or remote consultations help patients manage their health more efficiently. For example, they can be invited to a video conference where they get their queries resolved with the healthcare staff and also receive instructions. Such interactions can minimize readmissions.
Telehealth provides a new option for providing preventive and follow-up care, which means that costly healthcare facilities and associated resources can be reserved for the patients who really require them.
Being Cost Efficient
Another big advantage of Telehealth, it saves you money by eliminating your clinic visits that would otherwise involve parking and fuel costs.
It can cost less than seeing a doctor in-person. The national average cost for visiting a doctor is $85 for low-emergency consultation compared to $50 for a virtual clinic.
Besides, you don’t need to take time off from work to visit your doctor during work hours, saving you from deductions.
It is an ideal way to access a doctor if you are suffering from upper respiratory issues, fever, rashes, flu, cough, and urinary tract infection.
According to one report, telehealth can help save the USA as much as USD 4.28 billion on healthcare expenses done per year.
Providing Emergency Care
Getting telehealth services on time can make a difference to your sudden (non-emergency) health conditions.
For example, if you are suffering from the severe symptoms of a cold at midnight and can’t make it to the drugstore, you can access a virtual physician for an immediate cure. Some telehealth services also deliver medication at your doorstep.
Eliminating the Risk of Catching a New Illness
This point is relevant in today’s scenario being hit by COVID 19. Clinics and hospitals are full of sick people. Ironically, you can catch a new illness while treating your existing one or accompanying a patient over there. This is quite real when you come into contact with other patients or touch the infected surfaces.
By staying home, you can access the required care while avoiding the risk of exposure to communicable diseases as well as the chance to pass on to someone else.
That’s why telehealth is recommended to prevent the outbreak of COVID 19. This is the major advantage of telehealth especially during these times.
Storing Your Personal Health Records
Many telehealth apps or tools store your personal health data such as the latest diagnosis, MRI scans, x-rays, prescription, and follow-ups. In an emergency, this personal health record can be accessed by the concerned healthcare specialized to provide quick help.
Encouraging Patient Engagement
In telehealth, patients are likely to be more active as they can view their real-time stats as well as manage the things on their own.
They can take and maintain appointments and care schedules.
Not only do virtual clinics reassure patients that their physicians are accessible and involved in their care, but it also simplifies the things for them to reach out with queries, inform about early signs and make a follow-up appointment.
Telehealth has many positives to make healthcare services better and accessible for all.
Convenience of care, improved access, eliminating unnecessary clinic visits and decreased costs are a few. It has made healthcare services more efficient, coordinated, and closer to the patient.
Although telehealth might not fix all the issues in our healthcare system, it can efficiently and safely improve some long-term and short term shortcomings in the system.
It is no more future technology. It’s here now and it is up to the providers to improve, develop, and innovate with it. Good thing is that telehealth technology is getting advanced and sophisticated every year.
What do you think? Drop your opinions below to the comment box!