Empowering Patients with Telemedicine
Telemedicine also known as telehealth is virtual healthcare which allows patients and doctors to touch base remotely using technology such as video conferencing or mobile apps. Telemedicine is transforming the healthcare industry and the research results prove it to be the case. According to the ATA executive leadership survey (March 2017), more than 98% of healthcare leaders believe that telemedicine offers them a competitive advantage over organisations that do not offer the similar service. The results of the same study show that more than 70% healthcare leaders felt strongly or very strongly that telemedicine service has expanded their organisation’s coverage and reach. According to the same study, the key trend that is propelling the greater adoption of telemedicine is consumer demand.
Another great example is the study of the University of California Davis published in the Journal Value in Health. The data collected during the 18 years of tracking benefits of telemedicine shows that telemedicine saved nearly 9 years of patients travel time, 5 million miles and 3 million USD in costs. As the adoption of telemedicine is growing, the benefits to providers and patients in terms streamlining their workflows and streamlining their ability to offer great health care is increasing.
The workflows healthcare providers streamline via telemedicine.
As many doctors are overworked and overwhelmed it is a common practice in US that doctors are taking calls after working hours, however, they don’t monetise that service. The simplest way healthcare providers to increase workflows and efficiency is to allow patients to engage via video calls and sometimes on weekends when patients have a simple need which doctors can fulfill immediately. Telemedicine substantively improves patient flow; healthcare providers can perform a virtual visit in about 3 to 5 minutes where the in-person visit would be 15 minutes plus. With telemedicine solution, providers do not need to have extra stuff answering a phone call and spending time scheduling an appointment, the patient can do that at home.
First providers need to engage with the system and put the process in place. As telemedicine is a new alternative care delivery model, there is no need to make massive changes. Providers can start using telemedicine tool after office hours to get used to it. Once patients start using the tool, providers can observe patients’ behavior and adopt practices accordingly.
Telemedicine Benefits for Patients
From the patients’ perspective, virtual call reduces their waiting times, so they can get care at home, even they can have a call at work, so they don’t need to miss a workday by visiting the doctor. Indeed, with telemedicine tools there are no extra footsteps for the patients, they can access the system when they want and from wherever they want.
Patients deal with a lot of challenges nowadays. The frustration level on the patient side is an all-time high. What patient really desire is access and convenience, patients want care when they are traveling when they are busy with work or with family. Patients want care that can fit into their activities, they want to access the healthcare system even on weekends. If a patient needs a medication refill, they don’t want to miss the work to go into their doctor’s office and wait an hour when they know exactly what they need. Indeed, there are a lot of advantages on the patient side in telemedicine, video call with healthcare providers truly empowers them to take more control of their health and give them what they really want which is access and convenience.
Essentials of Telemedicine Technology
There are many telemedicine software’s available on the market with various use cases. Before choosing the telemedicine solution, providers should identify their needs and establish what they are trying to accomplish with it. The tool should be simple with a practical interface to use both for providers and for patients so that patients should be able to engage without any problem. The main criteria providers should consider for choosing such software should be how practical it is for patients to use. Once this key criterion is met, providers can look for extra adds-on. The second criteria, which providers should consider when choosing a telemedicine solution, is to know what is the customer service like? For example, if the patient hasn’t put their webcam on, is there help available for them on the platform. Third, the telemedicine software needs to have all the right functions provider needs. Practice shows that providers are making more web-based calls while among patients the mobile app use is increasing.
Challenges of the Telemedicine Industry
The general rule of the game is that telemedicine softwares are easy to use and much more convenient for patients. The applications are easy to download. However, some doctors voice concerns with patients’ Wi-Fi and connectivity issues. The back-up plan, in this case, is the texting tool through the same mechanism. In case providers don’t have a clear video image of the patient, they can chat or voice call instead.
Another challenge is a patient’s engagement. In order to make patients motivated to use the tool for the first time, providers should have marketing teams that will get patients excited about using the app. This also includes hospital or healthcare provider office staff awareness. If someone calls into a hospital and they can’t get an appointment for weeks or months, the person taking the call should be able to offer the patient a quick video call with the respective nurse practitioner.
Furthermore, there is a general belief that the change in the medical healthcare industry comes slow. Doctors are trained traditionally, feeling like they to see the patient in person. What the telemedicine technology is introducing is a change in the ways practitioners function. However, once they try and see the benefit of technology, most of them will embrace it.
Meopin soon will introduce an easy to use and complete telemedicine tool to connect healthcare providers and patients in a more efficient way. So, stay tuned!
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