Telehealth, or telemedicine, represents a grand opportunity in modern health management across the full lineup of care settings. While telehealth was once regaled to the fringe of medicine, it now forms a huge share of the market and offers practices the ability to see more patients, lower operating expenses, and improve community health in one motion. Some experts argued against its value, but that narrative is changing to reflect the growing basis of technology in all lives. According to an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Review, multiple study findings reviewing the quality and standards of care in telehealth reveal telehealth improves outcomes or is just as good as traditional in-office visits. The marked improvements in access to care and ease of care stand apart from traditional health settings and reduce the barriers to care along the way. In addition, a study in 2012, reports U.S. News, found that up to 70% of office visits could have been handled through telehealth, and with more Americans turning to telehealth through smartphones, tablets, and PCs, the opportunities to bring quality care to the masses only continue to grow. In fact, the benefits of telehealth are wide-ranging, making telehealth particularly attractive to key specialties that need an infusion of technology to improve treatment outcomes.
Benefits of Telehealth in Specialized Health Care
The benefits of telemedicine in specialized health care reflect its diverse applications and ways to leverage technology to overcome traditional obstacles to seeing a provider. Notable benefits of telehealth in specialized health care include:
- Better scheduling that accommodates busy lives and people with complex responsibilities.
- Faster scheduling for seeing providers after office-hours or for an urgent matter and even an emergency consultation between providers.
- Ease of access to care that works well for areas with limited physicians and specialists within a reasonable distance.
- Telehealth is available with many insurance plans and reimbursable.
- Telemedicine generally costs less than traditional in-office visits.
- Less paperwork improves administrative functions in practices and simultaneously improves recordkeeping.
- Improved copayment collection and financial stability.
- Less risk of spreading contagious illnesses to other patients and peers.
Specialties Currently Using Telehealth and Use Cases
The leading specialties range from primary care providers (PCPs) through the complexities of occupational medicine. Such use cases include the following:
PCP Use Cases of Telehealth Reduce Barriers to Care
Telehealth can be used by PCPs to both obtain initial care for an injury or need and continue with follow-up care. Each benefit listed above is applicable for PCP use, meaning it is the most cost-effective and viable solution for struggling or growing practices. In addition, the use of telehealth reduces the barriers to accessing care, even when such care is available within the local area. For instance, someone too ill to drive may see a PCP through telehealth portals and have medications delivered by third-party services or local pharmacies. Even mothers that need to get a child to a pediatrician could leverage telehealth in the dead of night to see a provider remotely and avoid the hassle of leaving for the emergency center unnecessarily.
Psychiatry Benefits From Telehealth Significantly
See patients remotely, perfect for areas with limited mental health resources. According to MedGadget, studies have continuously reviewed the effectiveness of telehealth for online therapies. Up to 50% of telehealth psychiatry users see a reduction in depressive symptoms, and up to 98% of users view telehealth-based counseling as more effective and convenient than traditional counseling. This is in conjunction with a lower associated cost that visiting an in-office practice.
Telemedicine in Occupational Medicine Improves Employee Health.
When an employee is injured on the job, time is of the essence in seeing a provider. Not seeing a provider soon leads to stress and anxiety, and depending on location, seeing an in-person provider for occupational needs could easily take weeks. Instead of waiting for additional care, telehealth provides an opportunity to conduct and initial assessment and determine a person’s risk of continued injury or what steps to take to address minor needs. Moreover, telehealth in occupational medicine is essential to effective follow-up care to check on patient progress and advise patients of new exercises or activities to promote a faster recovery. Such advantages reduce the hours lost by the employee and help employers maintain their operations.
Cardiology Leverages Telehealth to Improve Short-Term and Long-Term Outcomes
Telehealth in cardiology is particularly exciting. While it is easy to see its value in follow-up care, consider the opportunities to assess patients for potential cardiovascular problems over time while outside the care environment. For example, a mobile EKG unit could be worn by a person experiencing chest pains or shortness of breath. The unit transmits data back to the cardiologist, and after interpretation, the cardiologist will determine an appropriate plan of care. After taking all required in-person steps, the same technology can be used to further monitor progress and determine if additional steps are necessary to maintain health. Of course, other opportunities for using telehealth in cardiology exist, including cardiology consultations for patients with a suspected myocardial infarction (heart attack), potentially saving lives by getting patients transferred to an appropriate care facility faster and more efficiently.
Unlock Greater Value in Care and Better Treatment Outcomes With an Advanced, Telehealth-Capable EHR
PrognoCIS is a leap forward in the realm of technology for use across numerous health specialties. The technology streamlines office management and gives practices with limited experience in using such systems as a fail-safe way to embrace telehealth, reduce the burden of health management through better office management, lower costs with revenue cycle management, and improve access to care. It is the ultimate win-win for providers and patients alike.