As technology changes, it affects every facet of our lives, including our healthcare. While telemedicine isn’t a new concept, the way we use it today has changed significantly from its inception. In the early 1900s, transmissions of heart rhythms, known as “telecardiograms,” were sent via telephone; now, we can use video conferencing to visit with our doctors and other specialists. Answers from medical professionals are just a click away. The internet and improved personal computing have made telemedicine more viable than ever.
A study found more than 60 percent of health care institutions and 40-50 percent of all hospitals in the U.S. currently use some form of telemedicine. While telehealth, and more specifically telemedicine, can’t replace a doctor or hospital visit for severe conditions, it is filling in the role of helping patients with chronic issues and minor illnesses. Telemedicine has a multitude of advantages for patients and healthcare providers alike. The question is: Is telemedicine the right option for you?
Telemedicine is More Convenient for Patients and Providers
Whenever we assess how technology changes our lives, convenience is at the top of the list. We use computers and smartphones to order groceries, find directions to a friend’s house and binge our favorite media. Our tech consolidates many of the tools we need into one or two devices.
Telemedicine can do the same. It allows patients to access health care from the comfort of their own home. Using technology to visit with our doctors cuts down on the amount of time we have to spend traveling and waiting at the clinic. A study revealed that 79 percent of participants said it was easier to schedule a follow-up video visit rather than a traditional in-office visit. The ability to visit through video calling gives patients and health care specialists more flexibility.
If you are dealing with non-emergency health concerns, such as insomnia, using telemedicine or an online solution may make more sense for you than going to a clinic to see a specialist in-person. You can join several programs and visit with a specialist almost immediately. This quick access allows patients to begin improving their quality of life without having to wait for an appointment.
Telemedicine Increases Access to Health Care for Underserved Areas
While health care technology and science are more advanced than ever before, there is still a shortage of access to medical care in parts of America, including rural areas. These underserved communities create a need for patients to see a doctor or medical specialist in cities that are hours away. The number of trips a patient needs to make can be cut down by telemedicine. The use of video conferencing with a doctor can limit the number of trips a patient needs to make to a clinic or urgent care. Telemedicine is most impactful for those dealing with logistical problems that make it difficult to get the attention they need when they need it.
Many specialists in specific fields of medicine, like sleep behavior, are limited geographically and aren’t as accessible. Telemedicine allows you to find specialists online who can work with you on more chronic conditions that don’t require in-person visits.
Telemedicine is More Efficient for Healthcare Providers
Telemedicine allows both patients and providers to experience higher efficiency in their interactions. Video visits and online health tracking raise productivity by enabling healthcare organizations to use less staff to perform their visits with patients. Limiting the use of physical space also cuts down the wasted resources caused by no-shows. Doctors and specialists can use their time more efficiently with telemedical technology, allowing them to see more patients in shorter periods.
Telemedicine Reduces Healthcare Costs for Patients
Access to telemedicine allows you to reach doctors across the U.S. If your insurance doesn’t cover any clinics nearby, you can visit with a doctor or specialist in your insurance network through video calling. These methods will lower the out-of-pocket price for you. Telemedical technology also allows the service provider to operate at a lower cost, meaning using an online service can result in greater cost savings when compared to in-person medical care.
While telemedicine can seem intimidating at first, it can get you the necessary care in less time for less money. While these solutions are not meant to replace visits to health specialists for severe medical issues, they can offer patients high-quality care more conveniently than ever before.
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