Time and time again it is said that technology has transformed healthcare. Members of the medical community have seen telehealth inch its way into the field over the years and it is not going anywhere any time soon. While care providers are familiar with the terms telehealth, it is important to fully understand what exactly it is, how it’s weaving its way through health care and how it can be used to better a practice.
While the words telehealth and telemedicine are often interchanged seamlessly, there is debate as to whether or not they mean the same thing. Telehealth is defined by the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) as “the use of information and communications technologies for the support and enhancement of health care.” Many people define telemedicine in the exact same way, but U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration refers to it “more specifically to remote clinical services.” Telemedicine refers to the literal care given through the tools that are embodied in telehealth.
Through communications technology like a mobile device or computer, telehealth allows patients to access medical care remotely, increasing access to healthcare. This is a breakthrough for patients and providers on multiple tiers. Below are tools associated with telehealth and why it is such a breakthrough tool for patients and providers.
One of the most unique features introduced with telehealth technology is the use of live video (aka video conferencing) visits with healthcare providers. Whether a patient is unable to travel to their doctor’s office, lives in an area where there are few primary care physicians nearby, or has a busy schedule, this component of telemedicine increases access to providers in a unique way.
The ability to communicate with a healthcare provider through a secure video visit allows patients to experience healthcare in a new way that increases their likeliness to address health concerns and communicate with healthcare providers. Likewise, they can communicate with their provider instantly, encouraging them to ask questions and address concerns quickly as opposed to waiting to go to the doctor’s office. With this tool, telehealth helps to increase patient engagement, patient satisfaction, and communication between patient and provider.
Along with the video conferencing feature, many telehealth programs and software include additional features that benefit the patient regarding their treatment plan or post-appointment care. Some of these features include geo-targeting of the nearest pharmacy in case a new prescription or prescription refill needs to be picked up. Secure messaging is another beneficial feature that allows a provider to securely message patients after their telehealth appointment, providing them with any care or treatment instructions, information and so on. Both of these features help to enhance the telehealth visit so that patients are 100% taken care of and know what to do and expect next.
There are many more benefits associated with telemedicine, as well as many other tools that can be used to get your patients more involved in their personal care. Yet, it’s easy to see that telehealth is a huge success both among patients and their providers as it makes appointments much more efficient and stress-less.
Once providers understand why telehealth is important to the structure of their practice, they can then work on finding the perfect vendor of telehealth software to set their practice up for success. A quality vendor is crucial to making sure a practice has the quality technology it needs to provide quality care.
Interested in telehealth and how it can benefit your practice? Contact us to setup a free demo of AnywhereCare, our telehealth app.