Please note: the opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of Bula's, but those of the author.
Rural settings, staffing, lack of transportation or mobility and funding issues are all challenging today’s medical landscape of access to care.
Telehealth will bridge that gap.
Telemedicine is the Future
Telemedicine has already been used successfully to improve patient access to medical care while reducing healthcare costs.
More than a quarter of Americans live in rural areas with access to care challenges.
An aging population, and a shortage of primary care providers, means telemedicine will only play a larger role in the future of delivery of care.
Private health insurers have already started to pay claims for telehealth services.
The telemedicine market is predicted to grow at a rate of more than 18% compounded year over year.
Patients will start adding telemedicine to their list of criteria when shopping for new providers.
Without providing telemedicine services, you run the risk of being passed over for another provider.
Advantages of Telemedicine
There are too many advantages, and not enough disadvantages, for a provider to not offer a telemedicine option.
The improvements in quality of care, patient engagement and provider satisfaction can not be ignored.
Telemedicine increases access to care, reduces costs and enhances face-to-face visits.
In other words, you’ll be able to see more patients, and those patients will receive a higher level of care.
It’ll also be easier for providers to receive training, attend meetings and presentations between practitioners. Which means there’ll be an overall reduction in operating costs.
Telemedicine Will Reduce Costs
Telemedicine visits cost the patient nearly half as much as in in-office visit.
The growth of the number of patients needing care is outpacing the growth of available providers.
Without telemedicine, triage becomes more and more inefficient, and has a greater cost to the healthcare system as a whole.
Productivity losses for both patients and providers will be minimized.
Clinics that don’t have telemedicine available have more patients show up late to appointments, not show up at all or tie up resources to reschedule.
Family members will find it easier to participate in consultations and to receive results. With families able to participate more, it will improve their quality of care and compliance.
Not using telehealth means your patients will have to wait longer just to get test results and more time wasted in the waiting room.
Advancement in technology is making remote care possible and bringing the provider back into the home.
Telemedicine is used in healthcare with technology that makes remote care possible. Getting set up to be a telemedicine provider is minimally invasive.
To provide remote clinical services, you’ll likely only need telecommunications and information technologies that you already have and use.
Once you’re set up, you’ll be able to advise and monitor without concern for distance. In most scenarios, you’ll be able to treat patients using just a computer or smartphone.
Short-term medical prescriptions, post-treatment and chronic care follow-up are just a few examples of the kinds of appointments you’ll be able to allocate.
Other simple ailments from basic colds with coughs and sore throats to more chronic conditions such as high or low blood pressure can be removed from your in-house patient load.
Patients needing therapists and mental health counselors will surge with massive levels of compliance.
Telepharmacy, just one specialty within the category of telemedicine, focuses on the delivery of pharmaceutical care.
Without telepharmacy, it’ll be more difficult to counsel patients, monitor drug therapy or authorize refills.
Allowing patients to meet with a pharmacist via telepharmacy provides a more safe and comfortable atmosphere.
Easier follow up meetings will increase patient compliance.
Many retail pharmacies have already established urgent care services in rural areas through the use of telehealth kiosks.
To solve staffing challenges without compromising care, in-store kiosks offer care that’s more cost effective.
Pharmacy sites such as hospitals, nursing homes or other medical facilities are starting to implement telepharmacy services, if they haven’t already.
Education, training and management can be provided to pharmacy staff remotely through videoconferencing. Which will cut down on operational costs.
Formulary compliance won’t be as difficult with the aid of teleconferencing or videoconferencing.
Remote Dispensing Pharmacies
The automated systems used to dispense prescription medication without an on-site pharmacist, known as remote dispensing, will be used in conjunction with telepharmacy practices.
Quality of Care with Telemedicine
Telemedicine will actually improve the quality of care patients receive because they’ll have access to care when and where they need it.
It’s more centered on the patients needs, and ability to receive care. Telemedicine leads to a diagnosis faster, resulting in early treatment. Which means improved outcomes and lowering expenses.
Regulations for telemedicine fall on the individual states.
But the trend is steering the industry towards allowing more online prescriptions.
In recent years, many states have passed laws that make telemedicine easier to practice.
As of 2018, 49 states and the District of Columbia are providing reimbursement through Medicaid for some version of live video care.
Federal regulators are also exploring ways to further grant medicare reimbursements for telemedicine services.
Don’t get left behind.
What’s next? Perhaps, in the near future, surgeons will perform surgeries remotely through the use of robotic hands.