Telehealth had already been growing before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the need for social distancing made its use skyrocket. While the end of the pandemic has reduced the growth in telehealth visits, that doesn’t mean people haven’t noticed the intrinsic benefits of telehealth when it comes to controlling infectious diseases.
During the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that in one sample week in 2020, they noted a 154% increase in telehealth visits compared to 2019.
Indeed, in terms of health resources, the unique benefits of telehealth in a variety of real-world situations is becoming obvious to both healthcare providers and patients. Managing contagion is just one of these benefits.
With two-thirds of respondents in a recent survey by J.D. Power saying they accessed video telehealth in 2022 (up from 37% in 2019), it’s clear that telehealth is now a critical aspect of the modern healthcare system.
To that end, let’s go into the benefits of telehealth in more depth, including:
- Improving patient access to care
- Flexible care delivery
- Saving on travel time to the doctor’s office
- Increasing patient engagement
- Remote monitoring of health conditions
- Improved patient satisfaction
But before we do that, we should first define the different types of telehealth.
Health Resources Defined – the Different Types of Telehealth
The basic definition of telehealth is the delivery of healthcare services over a distance through the use of technology (think virtual care through video visits or chat).
Telehealth is a broader term compared to telemedicine, which only includes the remote delivery of healthcare, whereas telehealth also includes training and educating medical professionals in addition to providing medical services aided by technology.
There are three different types of telehealth (broadly speaking):
- Synchronous, where the doctor is communicating with the patient in real time over the computer or telephone
- Asynchronous, where the data, images, or messages are sent to the doctor who will then assess and respond at a later time
- Remote patient monitoring, where patient care involves sending blood pressure or other test results to the doctor, and can involve monitoring chronic conditions
Currently, 76% of hospitals have adopted some form of telehealth, so it’s important to view telehealth as a supplementary form of healthcare and not as a replacement for other health resources within the healthcare system.
Ready to Provide Your Patients With the Benefits of Telehealth?
That said, the benefits of telehealth are vast – let’s explore them further below.
Improving Patient Access to Care
For many patients living in rural areas, it can be difficult to find an accessible doctor’s office. This can be a huge challenge to accessing primary care and may partially explain why there’s a 20% higher death rate in rural areas vs urban areas.
Chronic care management can be especially difficult when the patient’s primary care facility is far away, requiring constant, time-consuming visits.
The same problem presents itself for patients that face physical impairments that make travel difficult and/or painful.
A virtual visit can be especially helpful in physical therapy, allowing the healthcare provider to demonstrate exercises to the impaired patient without requiring the patient to travel outside the comfort of their home (and potentially incur additional pain or discomfort on their journey).
Telehealth, in sum, offers a variety of health resources that can make access to care much easier and simpler for patients who live in rural areas or face physical impairments.
Flexible Care Delivery
A majority of respondents in one study claimed that they preferred telehealth/virtual vare visits versus in-person appointments.
This has even more applicability in psychology, where many patients are receiving their care online and a patient with mental illness may be intimidated by going in-person to a doctor’s office or mental health professional’s office.
By offering flexible care delivery methods, health professionals make it easy for patients to receive care. While it may not be everyone’s preferred method of primary care, virtual care does appeal to a sizable portion of the population. And by reducing barriers to the healthcare system, we can help produce more positive outcomes for patients.
Saving on Travel Time to the Doctor’s Office
Beyond making access easier for patients to receive care, virtual care also helps them save on time – both in travel and in the waiting room.
Telehealth appointments are easier to make on time. And even if there is a delay, patients are generally less perturbed by the wait as they’re in the comfort of their own home, able to go about their day as normal as they wait to receive medical care.
This also saves the time of the healthcare providers as they won’t have to lose hour after hour waiting for patients that face a number of understandable delays (traffic, car troubles, public transit delays, etc.).
Source: Healthcare NOW Radio
Increased Patient Engagement
There’s a growing body of literature showing that higher patient engagement (also known as patient activation) leads to better outcomes. (For context, patient engagement involves a patient’s pro-active role in their own health, such as taking medications and communicating with their doctor when something is wrong.)
Similarly, several studies have shown that telehealth can improve patient engagement.
By offering telehealth services, therefore, medical providers can potentially increase patient engagement which in turn has been shown to improve outcomes.
In other words, telehealth may in fact help achieve better overall patient outcomes compared to in-person care alone.
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Remote Monitoring of Health Conditions
With telehealth services, remote monitoring of health conditions is possible, allowing medical providers to gain access to a wider range of data from which to draw conclusions.
Moreover, patients who require monitoring to ensure their health safety can benefit from remote monitoring.
Data can be obtained from wearable devices or at-home tests that a medical professional can then leverage to get a more complete health picture. This includes:
- Food intake
- Blood pressure
- Heart rate
- Blood sugar levels
- And more
Improved Patient Satisfaction
For some patients, especially those who suffer from anxiety, in-person appointments can be stressful and potentially even be a roadblock to accessing care.
By providing these patients with alternative methods of receiving care, they may be more active in their healthcare plan and just generally have higher patient satisfaction.
This higher level of satisfaction encourages more patients to take an active role in their healthcare plan, as well just generally be more likely to make and follow through on appointments. This is especially important in mental healthcare.
Level Up Patient Care With ISOwire
Telehealth is crucial in setting up your healthcare organization for success. You improve patient care and patient involvement, all while improving accessibility for patients in remote locations.
So if you’re ready to explore telehealth, then you need an experienced IT team that understands how to provide technical support to maintain fast, secure, and HIPAA-compliant telehealth platforms.
Contact ISOwire today to discuss your telehealth options. We’ll develop a budget-friendly solution that works for you.