Telemedicine has gained in popularity over the past few years, as more people look for cost-effective and convenient ways to get the care that they need. While there are many benefits of telemedicine, it is all too easy to overlook how important telemedicine’s role is within the medical community. In this article, learn about five of the major benefits of telemedicine in the United States.
Expand Access to Care
Telemedicine has the ability to substantially expand access to care to residents all over the U.S. For remote areas where there are limited medical practices, patients can access doctors and specialists that are available in larger cities that might have specialization and experience that local doctors cannot. For doctors, telemedicine can increase the radius of where patients live, enabling doctors to reach more patients and potentially make more money by scheduling more appointments.
Quicker Doctor Contact
It can be difficult to schedule an appointment with a healthcare practice. Between work commitments and scheduling availability with the office, it can take weeks of waiting before a patient can be seen by doctors. With telemedicine, long waits aren’t necessary, as doctors can schedule more appointments and patients have more flexibility with where and when they can make their appointment.
This is a major benefit of telemedicine. It isn’t uncommon for patients to have to otherwise wait several weeks for an appointment that works for their schedule. If a patient needs a refill of a prescription medication, this can mean extra time without access to meds that they really need. If a patient notices symptoms and needs a doctors advice, this could add time that allows the condition to get worse without being monitored by a physician. In all of these instances, telemedicine could be a great solution.
Monitor Patients Remotely
A good number of doctor’s appointments are scheduled for patient monitoring, such as reviewing dosing of a medication or follow up. With telemedicine, doctors can monitor patients remotely and make decisions about further care options without having to physically see the patient in the office unless it becomes necessary.
For instance, endocrinologists can ask newly diagnosed diabetics to upload blood sugar readings into an online portal to be monitored in real-time. In between appointments, if something goes awry, the doctor or his team can reach out to the patient to schedule a telehealth appointment or in-person appointment to address these concerns. This can have a big impact on patient outcomes and overall health.
Less Expensive Care
It is generally less expensive to have a telehealth appointment than an in-person one. First, there are a lot of resources required to have an in-person appointment that simply isn’t required with telemedicine. This includes gloves, paper table coverings, and thermometer covers. The number of staff members required to interact with the patient is also less. You might have a medical assistant or nurse connect the video call and collect information, but there is no exam room to walk back to or any vital signs for staff members to take.
Telemedicine doesn’t take away resources in the same way that traditional, in-person appointments do. From consumable products like patient gowns to bottles of cleaners, these aren’t factors for telemedicine. It is unlikely if not impossible that any practice will be able to shift online and completely eliminate these expenses. However, the more appointments that take place virtually, the more of an effect that you can experience on your supply levels, materials expenses, and staffing costs. In this way, any amount helps.
More Patient Education
With telemedicine, there are more opportunities for patient education than ever before. Not only do patients have remote and faster access to providers and staff members, as needed, but healthcare practices can create patient education videos and courses to make available to applicable patients so that they can have access at home. It is easy to integrate these patient education offerings through most telemedicine software programs.
For example, OB/GYN practices can upload videos and courses about labor and delivery, newborn care, and the symptoms of pre-eclampsia and gestational hypertension that patients should look out for. This can serve as an added value for patients who can access this important information from the comfort of their own homes or from their mobile devices. In some cases, this could potentially save providers and medical staff time from having to explain these topics to each and every patient individually.
These are just some of the benefits that you may experience from telemedicine. However, there are many benefits that you may only realize once you have already implemented telemedicine within your practice. KitelyTech helps to create custom telemedicine solutions for medical practices of all sizes. Contact us at (312) 254-8248 to learn more or to request a custom quote.