Telemedicine is a very vital part of healthcare coordination, work flow and other long term outcomes. It is a key component in the health care industry as its goal is to bridge gap between providers and patients. More patients are able to receive medical consultation and monitoring with the assistance of this new technology.
Though telemedicine gives away a lot of conveniences, there are still some challenges that are faced. Some of them are:
- Managing a large number of patients can be overwhelming for the providers to handle; as more and more patients are opting for it with the increasing popularity of Telemedicine. Therefore, some changes are still required to be made so that there is a certain limit of patients who can visit per day.
- Security of data is still a big concern for providers. It is important to be highly cautious when it comes to dealing with patients’ personal details. There are tricky policies and reimbursement rules that providers often struggle to keep up with the fast-growing industry.
- There could be reduced care continuity as patients may be connected randomly to the healthcare provider. Shuffling of service provider increases the risk of not giving proper treatment to the patients due to the lack of patients’ complete history.
- The connection is often a big hurdle, especially in rural areas.
- Lastly, there should be price regulations so that patients are not overcharged. There should be a proper record keeping system that shows a detailed history of each telemedicine visit.
In spite of these challenges, telemedicine is constantly increasing its momentum as it has benefits that not only affects patients but also the practices. Some of its benefits are:
- There is a drastic reduction in unnecessary admissions and readmissions with the help of remote consultations and monitoring. This allows patients to manage health conditions more effectively.
- Some patients can remain where they are instead of being moved to a health facility that is not within their reach.
- The providers can extend their reach to patients who need their expert opinion and treatment, who would otherwise miss out on the treatment if not for telehealth.
- Providers and patients can save time traveling back and forth to the facilities.
- Tertiary care facilities help develop relationships with underserved facilities that needed extra help in transferring patients into their facilities.
- These tertiary care facilities can quickly identify remote patients who are sure to benefit from being transferred to their facilities. This, on the other hand, increases their revenue.
- Patients can expect better outcomes as they have faster access to specialists who can apply higher standards of care while evaluating various illnesses and their conditions.
- Specialists can determine if a patient absolutely needs to be moved to another facility where they can get more support.
- The staff can easily access records from specialists for the patients who are already in the facility and thereby improve the level of care given to them. The patient information can still be accessed easily even if the patient is at home.
- The providers can even earn more revenue by being on-call for tele-consults.
- The facilities can offer advanced solutions with the help of telemedicine, improving the health of the overall community.
Telemedicine is helpful for both, providers and patients. For patients, it saves time to drive to practice when it can be easily done through video consultation. For example, the father of a child with a disability can benefit from this technology. Patients are able to discuss their tests results easily and can do more frequent follow-ups. Patients are also able to have better outcomes because of timelier access to specialists who can get proper care with the least inconvenience.
For providers and specialists, it is a big advantage because local patients can avail their service even with limited access. It saves time and providers are able to accommodate more patients in a day. This is beneficial in both quality of life and creates an ability to increase the billable time. Providers can also increase their capacity and avoid other disruptions like travel/weather.
For rural providers, telemedicine opens the door to many resources and reduces professional isolation. Telemedicine makes it easier to consult other providers/specialists to increase their scope of knowledge. It is not just knowledge gained from working with a broader group of professionals, but it is a continuing education opportunity that technology creates for rural medical professionals.
Advances in information and communication technologies, such as the Internet, email, virtual medical databases, and video conferencing, are now making it possible for patients and consumers to access a broad range of healthcare services and information from their homes and to communicate more easily with healthcare professionals. The tools of telemedicine are transforming the way in which health information is acquired, used, disclosed, transmitted, and stored.
Moreover, the unique strength of telemedicine is its ability to overcome the barriers of geography and time. The armed services are increasingly using sophisticated telecommunication and information technologies to provide medical services to remote locations around the world. By means of satellite and other communications technologies, telemedical services have been provided to troops in remote and war-torn regions. In the very near future, the U.S. Army will have a telemedicine network that will link every Army medical center in the world.
The significance of telemedicine is increasing day by day because of its potential to reduce healthcare costs, augment patient access to healthcare services and information, improve the quality of care patients receive, and facilitate the management, storage, and transmission of health-related information. Increased life span and the corresponding rise in chronic diseases have also affected the growth of telemedicine. Patients, family caregivers, and healthcare professionals generally found the telemedicine technology easy to use and were satisfied with the services provided.
As the advancement of telemedicine continues, there will be even more benefits we can’t yet imagine. It is clear that telemedicine will have a strong return on investment across the entire healthcare ecosystem. The velocity of the adaption of telemedicine increases exponentially, as all the practice staff is beginning to understand the potential ROI of this technology.