The affordable price of smart devices, the wide public acceptance of video-calling apps across all age groups, and the most recent context of the pandemic have created fertile soil for telemedicine to gain ground. Today, it’s not only a helpful tool to overcome logistically challenging cases, but a widely requested solution in everyday medical practice – an essential instrument for physicians, as well as patients.
Telemedicine now allows doctors to diagnose, and even treat, patients without much trouble from large distances. They can even do it from across the street, for that matter, but cutting out the unnecessary and often risky element of direct exposure. All that’s needed for virtual consultations today is a smartphone, a tablet or a computer with a camera, and reliable internet access.
What is telemedicine?
In simple terms, telemedicine is the remote version of patient care, with emphasis on clinical services. It allows patients to seek medical assistance, and doctors to assess, diagnose, and treat patients from afar – in recent times relying heavily on smart devices and applications.
The practice has been slowly spreading in different shapes for more than half a century now – with no significant breakthrough until the last decade or so – and it’s only really entered the mainstream consciousness together with the COVID-19 lockdowns. Now, telemedicine is conquering new heights as an important part of the healthcare infrastructure.
Telemedicine vs. Telehealth – What’s the difference?
Although often used interchangeably, telehealth is not exactly the same as telemedicine. Telehealth covers non-clinical events, too, such as healthcare staff, administrative meetings, or medical training. While telemedicine refers strictly to remote clinical services, telehealth is an umbrella term collecting methods to improve care, as well as education delivery.
How can telemedicine help?
The key objective, as with most processes being migrated into the digital space, is to streamline and reduce admin load and costs, thus freeing up potential for growth and development. This is mutually beneficial for patients and healthcare providers.
How can telemedicine help healthcare providers?
Telemedicine is all about efficiency from the healthcare provider’s point of view.
Aside from the obvious audio- and video-enabled conferencing features and text-based chat, software solutions often integrate medical records, appointment scheduling, and diagnosis tools, too. On the hardware side, smart wearable devices are also common, allowing for monitoring patients’ health and delivering quicker, more accurate evaluations and diagnoses.
Telemedicine also helps with time management – doctors can see more patients in a day without the need for larger waiting rooms or more assistants, thus increasing revenue.
The most common applications of telemedicine and telehealth include:
- Non-emergent or low-risk urgent care
- Support for patients suffering from chronic conditions
- Therapy (often used in tandem with in-person sessions for optimal results)
- Post-hospitalization and long-term care monitoring
- Education and training for healthcare personnel
How can telemedicine help patients?
Social distancing brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has created not only an institutional need, but also a public demand for telemedicine. But the benefits of telemedicine for patients stretch far beyond that. Physicians also become available this way to patients whose living arrangements or limited mobility would otherwise restrict their access to healthcare, or seniors who prefer to spend their elderly days at home instead of a care facility.
Some of the most prominent benefits of telemedicine for patients include:
- Perfect pathogen safety
- Better time management
- Improved comfort and less anxiety
- More privacy
- Reduced or eliminated travel expenses
Why is telemedicine software worth investing in?
With dozens of versatile tools that apply to a wide range of needs in different situations, telemedicine is as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Whether you need tools for virtual healthcare, want to prepare your digital records system to scale, or expand your practice into the Internet of Things with remote patient monitoring tools, there is a solution in telemedicine.
Technology, legislature, and the public’s expectations are all moving in a direction that favors the acceptance of telemedicine. What has been a necessity during the pandemic will soon become the norm as people adapt to this new way of “seeing the doctor.”
So, these digital solutions do promise a more advanced service and the market is ripe for adopting them into your daily practice, but there are some additional benefits associated with telemedicine that are worth taking into consideration:
Reduced risk for healthcare staff
With telemedicine, doctors also get to work from home. With adequate cybersecurity measures in place, therapists and doctors can treat patients remotely from the safety and comfort of their homes.
Lower ongoing expenses
Telemedicine solutions help reduce office expenses. For example, doctors’ offices may work in a hybrid system, saving on heating and cooling costs, and reducing or completely eliminating the need for front desk assistance.
Doctors and therapists in many states can now bill for the healthcare services they provide in a telemedicine regime through Medicare and private health insurance companies.
Adopting telemedicine inevitably entails heavier reliance on a digital health records library. This in turn will significantly ease the flow of information, saving time and money for your health practice in the long run.
Patients demand it
Perhaps the most important reason to start adopting telemedicine is the fact that there’s a demand for it on the market. People are ready for it – the number of telehealth patients continues to rise each year, and with it, the competition among healthcare providers to meet the needs of an increasingly digital-savvy public.
Software solutions to streamline your healthcare business
The benefits of digitizing your healthcare business go beyond the bounds of telemedicine. SMEDIX can help you find the most fitting patient-centric solutions for your stability and growth. Reach out to our team – we’re eager to create a better future for healthcare together.