Advancements in technology and the growth of the internet have led to dramatic changes in daily life. It has impacted how we communicate, how we travel, how we shop and how we learn. The field of healthcare is no exception. Technology has improved how medical professionals access and share information and provide care to patients. Telehealth is a dynamic field that has the potential to dramatically change the face of healthcare.
Origins and Use
NASA popularized long distance medical care in the 1960s when astronauts went into space. They collected data remotely about the health of its astronauts and doctors assessed this information to gauge their health while they were in space. Ask-A-Nurse services began, allowing patients to call in and get advice. Today more healthcare providers are exploring the use of online patient portals which can help people connect with professionals if they are living in remote places. Telehealth services can also help save time and money.
Potential to Improve Care Through Data Management and Centralization
At this point, patient medical history can be challenging to share between different medical institutions and specialists. When a patient has to change doctors, the physician may not receive complete records or may have to run redundant tests because the existing patient information is insufficient. A complete patient profile charting a person’s health issues, diagnoses, treatments prescribed, and other information can be helpful to both patient and physician. It can help improve the level of treatment a patient receives if a new physician receives a complete picture of a person’s health journey. Technology has allowed for the development of a personalized health record system app which allows an individual to view their own medical data. This can be communicated with other healthcare professionals during an emergency which can help to save lives.
Telehealth has great potential to make a difference in the delivery of care, and although the technology exists, it might be a while before bureaucracy catches up.
Online Appointments via Video Conferencing
Online appointments can help patients easily interact with healthcare providers which can be critical for people who live in rural locations and for those who do not have access to transportation. Online appointments are also attractive for those who have busy schedules and who are not able to get into the doctor’s office because of their jobs. According to a study completed in August 2015, the average time for an appointment was 121 minutes with only 20 minutes spent in the presence of the doctor. The amount of time that patients are waiting at the doctor’s office is a burden for them and their employers and has been consistently increasing. Fortunately, the study also found that online appointments save this time and result in a more cost effective appointment for everyone. A patient shouldn’t spend needless hours in a waiting room to receive care. Scheduling an online appointment would allow them to spend the time how they see fit.
Making a Difference
In addition to sharing information and saving time, Telehealth can also help patients by providing a platform for them to manage their routine health and prevent serious cases from occurring. They can view or request results online through their patient portal and even securely message their provider with questions. The correspondence they’re able to make online and the answers they receive may even remove the need to schedule yet another appointment.
Telehealth is growing more popular and healthcare professionals, insurance companies and state governments are noticing. Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia currently have a law that governs private payer Telehealth reimbursement and that number is expected to increase through growing demand. To learn more about telehealth and how we can help with HIPAA-Compliant Videoconferencing, contact us today.