Learn how technology can improve your healthcare.
The internet has transformed life as we know it. The ability to conduct business virtually is now a part of our lives in many ways. Now, telemedicine offers a new way to extend this idea to the medical field. If you have access to a PC, smartphone, or email, telehealth allows you to connect with medical providers without leaving your home or taking time off work.
Telemedicine can benefit patients and providers. It can also help expand the capacity of the medical system during pandemics, such as COVID 19, and during times of increased demand.
What Is Telehealth?
Much of what happens during a doctor’s visit or mental health visit involves conversation. Sometimes, a physical exam or testing is necessary, but many times, these things aren’t needed. In fact, a lot of visits simply involve asking questions and giving information. Most of this can be done remotely. In addition, it is possible to send photos of conditions such as rashes or swelling to the physician without having to be seen. This makes it even easier for doctors to remotely treat patients.
Types of Telemedicine/Telehealth Visits
Many types of physician appointments can be done using telemedicine. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 70 percent of all routine visits can be accomplished through telemedicine.
Here are a few of the common types of visits done via telehealth:
- Follow-up visits
- Chronic disease management
- Medication management
- Mental health assessments/visits
- Minor cold and flu visits
Benefits of Telemedicine Visits
Telemedicine has many benefits that go beyond convenience. Here are a few ways that telemedicine can be an excellent solution in many cases.
- Reduced exposure. Sitting in a waiting room exposes you to new illnesses, which, as you know, is best to be avoided, if possible. Telemedicine reduces your chance of catching a new illness. This is especially important, considering the recent COVID 19 pandemic.
- Less Waiting. Your wait for telemedicine will be much less time consuming than getting into the car, driving to the office, and waiting in the reception area. In addition, by using telemedicine, you are reducing the wait for those who must see a physician for their condition.
- Less expensive. Telehealth visits often cost less than urgent care visits and might even be cheaper than in-person doctor’s office visits.
- It can be done anywhere. There is no need to take time off work, and you can make the call from a private location at your workplace. This is convenient, and it can benefit employers because they can reduce downtime and absenteeism.
- Child and eldercare. Many people have difficulty finding someone to care for children and elders while they attend a doctor’s visit. Telemedicine eliminates this challenge, and they can access care while continuing to care for loved ones.
When Is Telemedicine Best?
There are times when you should see a physician in person or visit the emergency room. For acute and sudden onset illnesses, you should visit your emergency room. However, if you are unsure whether your condition requires a visit, or whether there are other options, you can start with a telemedicine visit. If you need additional care, the provider can help you decide whether or not you need to seek additional help or wait to visit your primary care doctor.
Telemedicine can be an excellent choice for follow up visits, check-ups, or to manage certain chronic conditions. This type of treatment can also be used for conditions such as sinus infections, the flu, pink eye, fevers, and other minor ailments. Dermatologists can examine skin conditions remotely. Therapists can also treat anxiety, depression, and stress via telemedicine platforms.
In some cases, you might be asked to obtain testing, such as blood tests or radiology, and then, you can do a follow-up visit via telemedicine. This eliminates an additional trip to the office. Telemedicine can be used for giving you test results and routine medication management, too. These are only a few examples of treatments and conditions that can be handled effectively using telemedicine.
Specialities That Use Telemedicine
Now, you have access to more types of professionals through telemedicine than ever before. Here are a few examples of specialties that can be accessed through telemedicine.
- Primary care physicians
- Nurse practitioners
- Psychologists and counselors
- Allergists and Immunologists
- Dietary counseling
- Sports medicine
- Many others
Future of Telemedicine
The problem of reducing overcrowding in the medical system is an issue that has been at the forefront for some time. As the population ages, there is a need to increase capacity. The problem is that the system is already overwhelmed by the number of patients that need to be treated. Factors such as the regular flu season and widespread epidemics can put pressure on the system even more. An overcrowded system also has an effect of reducing the quality of care as staff becomes overworked and stressed.
Telemedicine is one solution to reducing stress on the medical system. Patients have the benefit of accessing the healthcare system with as little disturbance in their routine as possible. Physicians can see a larger number of patients in a day using virtual technology. This has the effect of improving the overall quality of care for everyone and helps to assure that everyone has access to healthcare when they need it.
Telemedicine is changing the healthcare system in many positive ways. HIPAA compliant software and telemedicine systems assure confidentiality and security of information, perhaps even more so than face-to-face visits. Recent surveys suggest that nearly 70% of all patients of certain employers had used telemedicine at least once. Many patients indicated that they prefer it to face-to-face visits for the convenience and personal attention that they receive.
Accessing telemedicine is easy and convenient for both providers and patients. A growing number of physicians and specialties are beginning to offer access to routine and non-serious health conditions. Telemedicine is changing the way we do medicine, and it is the perfect solution for overcoming many of the challenges currently being faced by our healthcare system. If you are a physician or patient, it might be time to consider telemedicine as a solution that can work for you.