Proper medical care and treatment is the right of every man, woman, and child. Unfortunately, due to some reasons, some people can’t access even primary medical care. Telemedicine is a part of the healthcare industry that is trying to bridge this gap in hopes of bringing people all around the world better care and treatment. In layman terms, telehealth is a solution that is digitalizing and revolutionizing the way doctors consult, diagnose and treat their patients. Instead of having to visit a brick and mortar hospital or practice to get medication and therapy, patients have the option to communicate via the internet so the physician can monitor, educate and consult.
What makes telemedicine so uniquely qualified to provide qualified care is that it doesn’t require the time or effort of commuting from your home to a hospital. Telehealth promises to bring medical care to your home, so your urgent needs are met and achieved.
However, though it is true that telemedicine has been around for quite some time, it has gained a lot of popularity in the last two years. The reason for this is simple, with everything being done online from bank transactions to building homes, patients too are looking for more convenient ways to interact with their doctors. This is where telemedicine apps come in. With these apps, it will be easier for physicians to track their patient’s health and give them follow-up care when needed.
According to stats, at least 7 million people will use telemedicine in 2018 in one way or the other. A survey conducted by Foley and Lardner, LLP also showed that 89% of healthcare leaders expect telemedicine to transform healthcare in the next decade an 90% of them are also developing telehealth programs and initiatives.
The question on everyone’s mind is; how will telemedicine change the future of healthcare? This is precisely what we’re going to be discussing with you today.
How Are Telemedicine Apps Redefining the Future?
In our quest to find out how the medical industry and healthcare is being revolutionized by telehealth apps, we have to look at its benefits and what makes it different.
Quality of Care
Depending on the disease severity of the condition and disease trajectory, telemedicine can sometimes provide a better quality of care as compared to the traditional, face-to-face interaction. According to one study, the use of telehealth apps appeared to improve the blood glucose levels of patients with diabetes. This study concluded that though the effectiveness of the app was dependent on some factors, it was something that would be considered to provide better monitoring and care as compared to traditional healthcare.
Convenience and Better Access
One of the main reasons why telemedicine is so sought-after is because it provides comfort – and this is what the modern patient is always looking for. This branch of medicine has been known to provide quality care for people living in rural areas and those who have difficulty in getting to and from clinics. With telehealth apps, physicians have the opportunity to cater to a much broader set of people and don’t just need to treat patients who live locally. With these apps, patients can be allowed to consult with their doctor from virtually anywhere in the world. So, if you are on a trip to Paris and suddenly get flu-like symptoms, you can easily connect with your doctor who is thousands of miles away instead of visiting a new doctor in a new country.
Other than the undeniable convenience, telehealth also provides both the patient and doctor cost-saving options. In fact, research has shown that even insurance companies are seen to be saving millions if telemedicine is appropriately integrated into the system. Because of shorter hospital stays, fewer admissions, improved management and reduced travel time, patients can hope to save thousands over the course of a year. A study found that telemedicine technologies could eliminate more than 387,000 transports to the ER and this could help save up to $327 million.
Easier Collaborations Between Physicians
One of the most noticeable benefits is that telemedicine apps make it easier for doctors to communicate with other professionals. In fact, this technology also allows non-clinicians to seek help from specialists for diagnosis and treatment. This could also make team effort and coordination stronger and avoid unnecessary hospitalization and costs.
According to one study, telemedicine apps combined with home monitoring technologies bought these costs down from a very high of 45% and reduced them by 1/3. Since these apps offer better collaboration with physicians as well as other benefits, most medical practitioners are looking to incorporate telemedicine into their existing practice.
What Do the Stats Say?
There has been plenty of research on the topic of telemedicine, how it’s being received by the population and its effects.
American Well conducted a survey in 2015 and found out that almost 64% of consumers were now open to visiting a doctor through a video. The study also found that the consumers were more likely to use telemedicine services if there was a video component involved. These videos made them feel more engaged, and they thought that the doctor would make an accurate diagnosis if they had a video chat.
This same study also found that 88% of the consumers said that they’d prefer choosing a doctor that had an online profile and decide according to the experience level that was listed. They concluded that these patients would prefer that the doctors had an online presence because this showed that they were up-to-date with the latest technologies.
Finally, the American Well study also confirmed that 62% of consumers said that they thought that a video should cost them less than an actual visit to the doctor. This is interesting because even though the doctor gives the patient an hour in both cases, the patient may be saving on fuel and other such costs by communicating through an online video.
Though there are still a few challenges that keep telemedicine from being integrated entirely, there is no doubt that the future of healthcare with these apps is very promising. A lot of data is still being collected so the jury is still out about whether or not telehealth will be useful in the long run.