During this year, many strides have been taken to implement more telemedicine services throughout the U.S. Patients have been more able to rely on remote options and video chats with physicians to help augment their treatment. They’ve also been receiving care for a wide variety of conditions and illnesses (with help from diagnosing the flu to developing a fast treatment plan during a stroke event). There are so many advantages to including telehealth options in a patient’s care, so here’s a look at some of the most beneficial aspects of using telemedicine in 2018.
More convenient care
One study notes that nearly 74% of Americans would be willing to use telemedicine services versus seeing their doctor in person. A huge benefit of telehealth is that patients have an easier time getting access to medical professionals. Using online tools like video chats, patients can connect with their physicians when it’s most convenient for them (instead of always having to work around the doctor’s schedule). Doctors are then able to have productive consultations with their patient without all the distractions an office can provide. These communications are more convenient because patients don’t have to wait until their next scheduled appointment if they have questions or concerns. Such convenience also permits patients to report any early warning signs about symptoms they might be worried about. This makes telemedicine a great option for encouraging individuals to maintain regular check-ins with their doctors, as well as supporting the careful monitoring of a patient’s condition or overall health.
Access to care for rural patients
Before the advent of telemedicine, patients who lived in remote or rural areas were often unable to get the proper care they needed. Many doctors or hospitals were just located too far from their residences. However, now telemedicine has created a way for patients to connect with doctors and specialists easily – as long as they have the Internet, they can access medical treatment. More access equals a greater chance of properly diagnosing and treating many serious conditions and creating more treatment parity for rural patients.
More access to specialists
It used to be that many people were limited in their treatment options because of where they lived. Nowadays, telemedicine is able to connect patients with the appropriate physicians they need, no matter their location. This means there will be improvements in the care of people who didn’t have direct access to the proper specialists before. Patients with specific needs or with rare conditions now have the ability to communicate and work with medical professionals throughout the country. They’ll be receiving the best care possible, even if they don’t live near the specialist.
Quicker treatment options
Another huge benefit of telemedicine is that patients can access quicker care because of this technology. Many telehealth measures mean that physicians can diagnose and treat a patient in minutes (versus a long waiting time at the ER or to get in to see a doctor). This fast treatment can literally be lifesaving for critical conditions like strokes or heart attacks. Telemedicine also eliminates some of the red tape surrounding health care – treatment teams can more easily communicate and collaborate with each other in the patient’s best interests. Medical records and test results can also be sent quickly online and through databases, so there’s less waiting time during that stage of the patient’s care.
More streamlined care in doctor’s offices and ERs
If more people use telemedicine, the care patients receive during in-person visits will also improve. In fact, statistics from the American Medical Association and Wellness Council of America state that more than 75% of doctor, urgent care, and emergency room visits could actually be handled effectively through a phone or video chat. If patients with non-critical injuries or illnesses can be taken care of with video chats, that leaves the in-person visits for more serious or life-threatening cases. This change means that not only would patients receive more streamlined and quicker treatment when they actually go in person to a doctor’s office or an ER, but also that wait times for these places would be shortened. This results in patients getting faster, more efficient, and more effective treatment when they need it.
Lower costs for patients
A great advantage of telemedicine is that patients can save money by turning to telehealth options instead of in-person visits. These options can be cheaper because doctors don’t have to charge for office fees or other add-on costs. Patients can also save money on transportation costs they’d have to shell out if they needed to get to an office. Likewise, physicians, hospitals, and insurance companies have all seen decreases in their costs because of more patients using telemedicine to receive treatment.
With more patients using telemedicine, a new trend has emerged of patients being more involved in their care and more engaged with their own health care. This can lead to patients being more likely to opt out of harmful behaviors (like unhealthy eating or smoking), which can result in an overall improved healthiness. People who are leading healthier lifestyles will also end up lowering health care costs both for themselves and for the population at large. There are many beneficial aspects of telemedicine that are only continuing to make major improvements in the health care field.