Telemedicine is the provision of remote healthcare services to patients through telecommunication technologies like video conferencing. Telemedicine specifically refers to remote clinical services. Telehealth, on the other hand, refers to all other non-clinical services as well, and thus, telemedicine is a subset of telehealth.
Telehealth allows remote patient and clinician contact, care, advice, instruction, education, monitoring, and remote admissions. It has helped overcome locational barriers, and thus, truly revolutionized the healthcare system across the globe.
Benefits of telemedicine and telehealth
Increased accessibility to healthcare
Accessibility to proper healthcare has been a massive issue, especially for people living in rural areas. Rural areas have a lack of infrastructure that can hardly provide patients with urgent care from specialist doctors when in need. Patients have to travel and wait for lengthy periods of time, before they get to consult with a specialist. This amounts to a significant wastage of time, money and effort, and can end up discouraging people from seeking proper healthcare. However, with the introduction of telemedicine, people now have the chance to consult experts from their homes or local hospitals. This has helped diminish healthcare disparities, and lower the mortality rates of such areas by a significant margin.
Convenient for people across barriers
People might also delay seeking healthcare on account of being home-bound, or having a tight work schedule. Even in such cases, healthcare is made more convenient because an appointment with a physician is just a few clicks away, and that too from the comfort of their homes. Furthermore, telehealth also facilitates on-demand contact in urgent cases, where a doctor on vacation is required, thus saving patients’ lives.
Improved healthcare quality – Better results
The timeliness of care and successful consultation with specialists in times of urgency has helped save numerous lives across the globe. Patients can now get access to a specialist or a super specialist’s opinion within minutes, and know about all the possible treatment options they have. This accelerates the process of diagnosis, and thus, treatment. According to a study by the American Journal of Managed Care, the adoption of telemedicine has dropped cases of anxiety and depression in patients by 30%.
Provides flexibility for healthcare personnel
A huge percentage of healthcare workers are found to be overworked because of the nature of their job that hardly lets them take a breather. But with telemedicine, doctors can spend a part of their week taking work-from-home consultations, which can help them relax a bit. Even non-clinical professionals can have a more flexible schedule, with admissions and administrational work being done online. Hence, telehealth allows medical personnel to have a healthy work-life balance without negatively affecting people’s lives.
Helps spread awareness and education
A huge portion of medical professionals working in rural areas are not trained to treat patients with health complications, which causes a number of deaths in these hospitals. A lot of these rural spaces have now started training their professionals via the internet. Doctors are also able to expand their clinical knowledge to treat patients better.
With telehealth allowing people to cut on transportation costs, it has helped patients save a lot of money. It has also enabled hospitals to boost up revenue by turning on-call hours into billing sessions, and have more infrastructure for offline admissions.
Most people don’t consider the environment when they think about telehealth. The truth is, given the volume of patients that need to undergo hospital to hospital transfers, doing away with the practice can significantly reduce a medical provider’s carbon footprint.
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