From Bedside to Webside: How Telehealth is Transforming Healthcare?

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We’re delving deeper into a digitalized world (and in the case of the latest pandemic, this is now a very apparent reality). There are so many technological advancements to think about – from AI to robotics to smartphones and wearable tech. With mobile eCommerce, you can purchase almost anything with your smartphone and have it shipped right to your door. Similarly, with telehealth, you can schedule a doctor’s appointment and consult with a specialist from the comfort of your own house. 

When technology meets healthcare

Connecting with your medical advisor online is a great way to get the health care you need from the comfort and safety of your own home. Telehealth, or telemedicine, lets your doctor offer care for you without in-person office visits. Telehealth healthcare is done primarily online with internet access on your smartphone, computer, or tablet. 

Several options for telehealthcare include: 

  • Discuss with your doctor via video chat or phone. 
  • Send and receive a message from your medical advisor using secure messaging, email, and secure file exchange.
  • Use online monitoring so your healthcare advisor can check on you at home. For instance, you might use a device to monitor your vital signs and help your doctor stay informed on your current health. 

The goals of telehealth include the following:

  • Make healthcare accessible to patients who live in isolated and rural communities.
  • Make services convenient and readily available for patients who don’t have time or transportation options. 
  • Offer access to medical professionals. 
  • Enhance communication and coordination of care among healthcare professionals and patients 
  • Provide support for self-management of health care.

Telemedicine is transforming the way we approach the medical industry, and here’s how:

Compliance with Millennial demand

Millennials make up for nearly 73 million of the US population, and they’re not huge supporters of the way healthcare has existed up to now. As a result, they seek healthcare systems with a faster response that leverage new technologies to improve treatment speed and efficiency. This includes online appointment scheduling, self-service portals, and telehealth as replacements for more traditional methods. Millennials view technology in healthcare as a standard and anticipated part of the medical system.

Recent findings affirm the above with the following statistics:

  • 74% of Millennials prefer the telehealth approach over traditional in-person medical visits
  • 71% of patients demand online scheduling via mobile applications
  • 26% prefer video visits over PCPs
  • 75% of telehealth users rated it as superior to the traditional in-person clinic visit.

Reducing the Nursing Shortage

As the need for nursing providers outgrows the national supply, the US is expected to experience up to 122,000 physician vacancies by 2032. One of the reasons is the rising demand (which often leads to burnout) for complex and frequent medical services, especially among the Baby Boomer generation.

Apart from nurse burnout, telemedicine services can help to moderate the current and future nursing shortage. With more than a half-million RNs expected to be pensioned off by the year 2022, telehealth could help reduce this drop-off of on-site personnel by allowing medical providers and nurses in different locations to provide medical support to patients without having to worry about resources at a physical facility. Telemedicine nursing positions are booming today as they develop into a more common part of the care continuum.

Insurers Support the Adoption of Telehealth

Insurance companies support the adoption of telemedicine, intending to lower costs, and improve accessibility for their customers.

In fact, telemedicine nursing and other remote services generate enough cost savings to interest shareholders. Recent findings show that healthcare shareholders are introducing payment reforms like value-based payment models to help healthcare providers, payers, and patients to reach the best results at the lowest cost. What’s more, as of October 2019, nearly 42 US states have decrees in place that require insurers to cover a certain amount of telemedicine services.

Demand for AI: Greater than Ever

The automation of EHRs and the advancement of artificial intelligence in the healthcare industry are facilitating the demand for telemedicine capabilities. Over 86% of people who use wellness, health, and fitness apps are already making sufficient use of AI. Why stop there? For example, the FDNA, a growing business, focuses on AI-based phenotyping to detect solutions for remote analysis of a patient’s genomic information through facial recognition. Another company is now using AI to recommend treatment plans to cancer patients. When combined with telehealth, AI becomes a powerful tool for remote services and experimentation.

Development of Better Healthcare Apps

Mobile apps have a key role in the digitalization of the telehealth industry. Since telemedicine handles sensitive patient data, the industry has grown more cautious about adopting advanced IT solutions into their complex data systems. However, with more governmental bodies and larger organizations adopting these new technologies, it’s no surprise that the development of more healthcare apps has been peaking so rapidly.

Sustainable Changes with Higher Education

Recent findings show that healthcare jobs will grow 14% through 2024 and all that thanks to telemedicine training. There are now increasingly more nursing programs that are available to working nurses to pursue further education, flexibly, in their free time. For instance, recent AI-driven simulation labs allow medical professionals to practice better patient care processes as well as training them to manage difficult medical situations before actually dealing with them. As they pursue further education, the latest technological advancements will help shape their future interaction with medicine and technology.

The limitations of telehealth

While telemedicine has the potential for better-coordinated care, it also involves the risk of fragmenting the healthcare system. This fragmentation may lead to gaps in care, overuse of medical care, unnecessary or overlapping care, or inappropriate use of medications. There are also privacy issues on the side of patient data as well as that of the facility or provider themselves. For example, hackers and other security concerns may pose a growing threat to sensitive data and information privacy.

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