As Internet access improves across the country, the use of telemedicine has expanded at a rapid pace.
Telemedicine offers substantial benefits to both patients and providers. By implementing a telehealth program, providers can improve the overall health of their patients while enjoying cost savings and increased efficiency. Check out the following benefits for both groups:
- Improved access and convenience – In many parts of the country, especially rural areas, patients don’t always have easy access to healthcare providers. In fact, patients may have to drive hundreds of miles to see a specialist. Telemedicine can eliminate this burden and make seeing a provider easier and more convenient. With telemedicine, patients can conveniently see a specialist from their primary care provider’s office, their local health department or even, in some cases, their home. This alleviates a huge burden for those with limited income, transportation and mobility and can help ensure patients who need care are actually receiving it.
- Cost savings – If patients don’t have to travel far to see providers, they save in transportation costs and missed time from work. More convenient and affordable care also means patients are more likely to seek treatment for conditions before the situation escalates into a hospital stay or emergency room visit.
- Improved overall health – Telemedicine programs like remote patient monitoring have been shown to help patients better manage chronic conditions and lead to better health outcomes. It can increase patient engagement, which leads to better patient compliance and an improvement in overall health. In fact, a study published in the February 2015 issue of the American Journal of Managed Care Virtual shows that telemedicine patients score lower for depression, anxiety and stress, and have 38% fewer hospital admissions.
- Cost efficiencies – Starting a telemedicine program may seem daunting, especially given the cost of equipment, but implementing a telehealth program can actually save money over the long-term. According to the American Telemedicine Association, telemedicine can reduce the cost of healthcare and increase efficiency through better management of chronic diseases, shared health professional staffing, and reduction of provider travel time to distal locations. By reducing travel time, providers can see more patients, thus easing the provider shortage and increasing revenue.
- Improved quality of care – Studies have consistently shown the quality of telemedicine care is as good as what is given in traditional in-person visits. In some cases, it’s better. Specialties such as mental health and ICU care actually display better outcomes and patient satisfaction than face-to-face interactions. Telemedicine also allows providers to address healthcare issues more quickly, with real-time urgent care consultations. As we move toward a value-based payment system, this could affect the provider’s bottom line in significant ways.
- Access to continuing education – Telehealth equipment allows providers and other medical staff to receive additional training and education without the need for expensive and time-consuming travel. A more educated workforce provides better patient care, and by attending educational sessions via telehealth, they’re able to resume seeing patients more quickly than if they had gone off-site.