More than 46 million Americans live in rural areas where long commute times and transportation costs limit their access to healthcare. With telehealth, individuals can easily access the necessary medical attention without traveling.
Medical practices that use telehealth can optimize workflows to save time and money. Plus, virtual appointments follow the same HIPAA privacy rules as in-person visits.
1. Improved Patient-Doctor Relationships
In an instant, on-demand service age, consumers are increasingly comfortable with remote healthcare. Telehealth solutions allow patients to receive diagnosis and treatment for minor symptoms from the comfort of their homes, saving them time and money that would have been spent on travel to an in-person appointment.
In addition, telehealth allows health providers to connect with more patients who might not otherwise get the care they need due to a lack of resources or geographic distance. For instance, the UPMC Telehealth Program connects small or rural communities with specialists at UPMC who can provide expert advice and care through virtual visits, eliminating obstacles to patient access to world-class healthcare. With the advent of GP service online, patients can consult with general practitioners and specialists remotely, further enhancing the accessibility of healthcare services
As COVID-19 continues to impact the health industry, patients and health systems must consider how telehealth will allow them to excel in three key areas: revenue, cost, and quality. Health systems that implement telehealth tools can now reap the benefits of this new normal for years.
The best telehealth solution providers can offer doctors and patients is a scalable, long-term model that can be used for everything from routine checkups to complex treatments. A system with built-in features such as online reviews, appointment booking, and digital reminders can reduce administrative work for patients and providers, allowing them to focus more on patient care.
2. Increased Patient Engagement
Telehealth allows patients to attend medical appointments remotely, eliminating the need for travel and helping them save on expenses. It can be a lifesaver for rural patients, those with difficulty driving, or who struggle to find reliable transportation. It also helps patients in suburban or metropolitan areas save on airfare and hotel costs while providing world-class healthcare.
In addition, telehealth increases patient engagement. The platform empowers patients to manage their health effectively by providing access to various tools and resources. Patients can take control of their health condition at home or work with our digital patient activation solutions.
These solutions include online reviews, appointment booking, reminders, and remote monitoring technologies that enable patients to monitor their symptoms and actively participate in their health and care.
Finally, telehealth also makes it easier for physicians to deliver high-quality care and manage patients with chronic health conditions. By helping them to reduce or eliminate comorbidities, improve chronic disease management, and decrease readmission rates, telehealth can help improve the quality of patient care and drive cost savings.
As the healthcare industry retools to its COVID-19-driven new normal, it will be necessary for providers to excel in revenue, cost, and quality. And while many viewed telehealth as a stopgap solution during the pandemic, its advantages are so significant that it can’t be dismissed.
3. Reduced Waiting Time
Patients who would otherwise struggle to attend in-person appointments due to time constraints benefit from the ability to participate in virtual appointments from their homes. It means they can avoid travel costs and expenses like tolls and parking.
Additionally, they can attend sessions at their own pace without worrying about rushing or being late for the appointment. As a result, they are more likely to follow instructions and implement prescriptions on their terms.
Additionally, for patients who live in rural or isolated communities, telehealth solutions can help them receive the medical attention they need. Rural residents are typically located twice as far from hospitals as urban citizens.
This distance can present a significant obstacle to receiving timely medical care. With telehealth, this barrier to access is removed, as they can meet with their doctor from home or even while on vacation.
While many patients may not be familiar with telehealth, they will most likely hear about it as word spreads during the pandemic. As social distancing measures ease up, more types of patients will start to request telehealth appointments.
While some patients may still be concerned about the security of telehealth sessions, it is essential to note that HIPAA regulations and strict cybersecurity protocols have been implemented to protect patient privacy. These safeguards ensure that telehealth platforms are no more at risk than traditional in-person visits.
4. Reduced Costs
More than 46 million Americans live in areas that require lengthy travel times to the nearest clinic. Even those who live in urban areas face expensive public transportation, traffic congestion, and other costly barriers to healthcare that can make a visit difficult. Telehealth eliminates these barriers, connecting patients with the healthcare services they need.
Compared to traditional in-person office visits, telehealth solutions cost less for providers and patients. It is due to scheduling inefficiencies, staffing challenges, and other common clinical hurdles that can be avoided with telehealth. Additionally, streamlined telehealth communication can help providers avoid costly misunderstandings resulting in missed or inaccurate diagnoses.
Patients also save money on costly appointments and transportation costs. With telehealth, they can connect with their provider from home, work, or wherever they are on vacation without spending extra money on gas, tolls, parking, and other related expenses.
Despite concerns that telehealth will cannibalize the in-person fee-for-service (FFS) model, it can supplement other care pathways. It will allow health systems to survive the COVID-19 era and achieve their ongoing revenue, cost, and quality goals.
It is also a great way to increase patient engagement, which can be accomplished with online reviews, appointment booking, and digital reminders. In addition, some telehealth solutions can support chronic disease management and medication adherence.