Telecommunication has become normalized in recent years due to the pandemic. Work, school, and even doctor appointments can now be held in video conference programs. Patients are able to adapt to receiving care from home.
Healthcare providers also had to adapt to the new normal of mental and physical healthcare. Even before the pandemic, 2015 statistics from the American Hospital Association showed that more than 70% of patients utilized telemedicine.
What is Telemedicine?
First, let’s cover in general. The World Health Organization has recognized telemedicine since 2010 as healthcare professionals providing services to a patient through any communication device or system. It can be something as simple as a phone or video call. These healthcare services are defined as diagnosis, treatment, research, and general prevention of diseases. In short, telemedicine is anything with your doctor that is not an in-person visit.
You may have heard the term “telehealth” in the past. For the most part, these terms don’t differ much in context and usage. Telehealth is a general way to reference elements of telemedicine like patients’ personal information, prescriptions from doctors, and other things exchanged over the video or phone calls when patients receive care.
Why is Telemedicine Preferred?
More than 70% is no small figure. A lot of patients rely on or prefer this. As it became more used, the benefits also increased due to healthcare providers beginning to take advantage of the benefits.
Telemedicine Can Benefit Patients in the Following Ways:
Prioritized Care and Access – Some patients may struggle to make their doctor’s appointments. Sometimes they have to take time out of their workday for the appointment. Telemedicine allows constant communication and access to your doctor without the stress of scheduling an appointment and holding yourself to it.
Ongoing Preventative Care – Healthcare providers have seen more than $3 trillion in expenses for patients with chronic conditions. Because of this, telemedicine offers ongoing preventative care rather than visits out of necessity. It’s not only more in-depth care for a condition but better for healthcare costs.
Healthcare Providers Can See More Patients – Without setting aside a budget for growth, healthcare providers can see more patients with telemedicine. They have more hours, no waiting rooms, less patient downtime, and fewer medical supplies like disinfecting materials being used. This is largely due to patients having more access.
More Medical Resources – Patients not being constrained to a single location can receive more expertise from other specialists regarding their care. They may even participate in a case study conducted by multiple healthcare professionals.
Challenges That Telemedicine Faces
For every new trend or practice, there will always be challenges on its path to becoming normalized.
Here are some areas that telemedicine still needs work in:
In-Person Visits Preference – Some patients still prefer in-person visits where they can interact more directly with their healthcare provider. Most of this comes from doubt of telemedicine’s effectiveness.
New Infrastructure – Healthcare providers will have to investments more in their IT systems when implementing telemedicine.
Technology Requirements – Some patients may not have access to a video conference device or WIFI in order to use telemedicine services.
Besides, they might not have video conferencing software for calling their healthcare providers. This creates a sort of demand on their part.
New Laws – Telemedicine systems often have to be certified and secure when handling patients’ information. In order to see more patients in different locations, healthcare providers may require additional licensing or certification.