Telemedicine is on the increase. Over half of all U.S. hospitals are now using telemedicine in some form, and this figure is on the rise. More and more people – including professionals, patients, and medical insurance personnel – are seeing benefits from the development and increasing availability of telemedicine. As technology continues to advance, these benefits will become even more apparent and widespread. Let’s take a look at how telemedicine could benefit you.
We currently live in a mad, busy world, right? We want to live life to the full and we want immediate gratification. So when it comes to our health, we want that fixed as quickly as possible too! Convenience is a key word in today’s health care. If you want to consult with a physician sooner rather than later, or if you don’t want to – or can’t – take time off work, then consider how convenient it would be to access help virtually. This can be done by a simple phone call, via video or Skype, or with specific telemedicine apps. You chat to your doctor and they diagnose the problem and decide on treatment. If a prescription is required, this can be transmitted electronically to a drugstore of your choice. Hey presto, you’re on your way to getting better already! Rest assured that the doctor will call you in for an in-person consultation and/or examination if he feels that is necessary.
It’s not only convenient to operate in this way – it will also save you money. Money that you might need to spend on transport to and from the physician; money that you might lose in taking time off work; money that you might spend on pain relief or medication if you have to wait a few days for an in-person doctor’s appointment. We all like things that save us money!
If you live in a remote area, or if you find traveling difficult or challenging for any reason (because you have reduced mobility, for example), the benefits of telemedicine are even more apparent. A virtual consultation clearly saves you time and transport costs. Time and money aren’t the only drawbacks here, though. Patients in remote and rural areas can often have trouble connecting with an appropriate specialist. Telemedicine allows your doctor to refer you to the right consultant for your specific needs, regardless of location. So in addition to saving time and money, you have the comfort of knowing you are being treated more speedily and by the best specialist for your particular problem. Remember that you will always be given a person-to-person appointment any time a physician deems this necessary.
Post-surgery care is another area where telemedicine could benefit you. Firstly, while you are still in hospital, your surgeon can receive information on your status at any time, regardless of where he or she is, and can then advise on any treatment or change of action that might be needed. Once home, health care providers can monitor you via video link and any concerns that you have can be voiced. Surgeons are supporting the increased use of telemedicine in surgical follow-ups. They know that good post-surgery care is vital to the successful recovery of patients and will make re-admission to hospital less likely.
If you’re one of the many U.S. citizens who suffer from a mental health illness, you will be aware of the difficulties in accessing help. Traveling on public transport, waiting in a room full of people to be seen by a doctor, or even the person-to-person consultation with your physician may all be particularly daunting for you. Telemedicine expands access to mental health services by allowing you to speak to a specialist via a video link, thereby avoiding situations that you may find challenging.
It’s widely accepted that telemedicine offers greater opportunity for patient-centered approaches – meaning that you, the patient, will benefit more from its application. Examples of this are firstly the fact that, as we’ve already noted, you can access help more quickly and conveniently. You will have a consultation and be offered treatment options right away. Any required medication can be collected quickly and conveniently, so your treatment begins immediately. If you are on a specific course of medication and need monitoring, or if, for example you have to take regular medication such as insulin, you can be remotely monitored to check that you’re taking the required amount of medicine or that you are following important instructions correctly. Information such as glucose readings can be viewed by your health care provider and any appropriate action taken. All of this not only helps your physical health but also your mental wellbeing. If you know that help is immediately at hand or that you are being constantly checked, you will be more at ease about your health. It’s a fact that telemedicine patients are less stressed and anxious and have far fewer admissions to hospital.
These are just some of the ways that the increasing use of telemedicine could benefit you. In conclusion, it’s also worth pointing out that telemedicine not only saves you money directly, but also in time, it will save you money indirectly. This is because we will see health insurance companies bringing down their premiums. Costs are being saved all the time in health care services with the introduction of telemedicine practices. Additionally, non-urgent ER visits are being reduced, as are hospital admissions and re-admissions and the length of hospital stays. Reduced health costs mean reduced health bills, which will ultimately mean a lower insurance premium for you.