Telemedicine in 2018 is an ever-changing landscape. Like most of the digital revolution, the change is fluid, rapid, and seismic. Telemedicine has already revolutionized the way patients and medical staff react and respond to health care at large, and it looks set to do so for many years to come. But when it comes to the here and now, what ways are patients benefiting from the telemedicine revolution? With 2018 almost halfway through, what are the advantages that patients and doctors alike are enjoying right now?
1. More Access to Care
Hospitals in the U.S. are routinely understaffed, leading to long wait times for patients who require access to specialists. This is not just an American issue, but a problem that routinely crops up all over the world. Telemedicine provides an opportunity to keep waiting room numbers down, leading to more streamlined care for both online and physical patients, and a more focused workload for doctors, who can then be more attentive towards their specific list of patients. Telemedicine also provides an opportunity for patients in remote or rural areas to access premium-level health care without committing a huge chunk of their time or resources. Overall, this will invigorate rural medicinal practice, providing these previously sidelined patients with a direct and instantaneous line to the health care they need.
2. A Wider Choice of Specialists
Whether a prospective patient lives in a rural or urban area, they are usually limited in the number of specialists they can see. A specialist is required in the majority of moderate to severe health cases, as general practitioners (or family doctors) generally act as a gateway, or initial diagnostic tool, to these more specific health care professionals. However, previously patients weren’t really afforded a choice of specialists; they were merely designated one and directed to see them. In more populous cities the situation is a little different, and patients can have more of a say in who they are referred to. But in general, you get what you’re given, especially if you live in a rural location with a slim number of specialists in the surrounding area. Telemedicine has changed this for the better; once your family doctor informs you what type of specialist you need to see concerning your condition, you can utilize telemedicine to locate and consult with the best specialist for your needs. This allows patients more freedom and choice when it comes to their treatment, and ultimately provides them with the best treatment possible.
3. Health Care on Demand
Many industries are turning to on-demand services with the advent of digital technology, so it’s no surprise that health care isn’t far behind them. While health care isn’t as simple as entertainment, where it’s simply a case of selecting the show or film you want from the Netflix library, there are a number of ways that telemedicine can help patients with their conditions. Patients can order prescriptions online and save the hassle of going to pick them up every time they require a new dosage. They can also apply for a medical marijuana card through sites like MMJ Recs, and benefit from the healing properties of MMJ in the states in which it’s legal. Emotional support animals are a major progressive treatment that helps to combat symptoms of widespread mental health disorders; to avail of an ESA, a patient requires a verified ESA letter, which can also be obtained via telemedicinal sites like Moosh. These are just a few examples of the way patients can benefit from new treatments from the comfort of their own home.
4. Lower Number of Readmissions
Patients with acute health issues are often readmitted to hospital, leading to a large number of patients being reintroduced to the system time and time again, despite knowing what their affliction is and exactly how to treat it. Research has shown that telemedicine significantly cuts down on these readmissions, improving patient workflow for medical staff, and decreasing the amount of stress and procedure that the patients themselves have to endure. As telemedicine advances, it’s likely that this statistic will reduce further, as readmitted patients will likely have a treatment plan laid out for them entirely over telemedicine. While we may be some way off that yet, it’s certainly something to look forward to in the future.
5. It Saves Money and Time
Everyone knows health care is expensive, whatever ailment you’re experiencing; unfortunately, this is par for the course all over the country. Telemedicine, however, is helping to reduce health care costs, and saving patients a lot of time in the process. Patients no longer need to travel to visit their doctor; they can consult with them on their own time and from the comfort of their own homes. This also significantly helps doctors, who can take on more patients, and cut costs on admin and paperwork simultaneously. The result is a cheaper, more productive health care initiative for both patients and doctors alike.