What Is Telehealth?

Summary:

Are you ready for the telehealth revolution? Understanding what this new healthcare trend is and how it can rewrite the healthcare industry as we know it is important to make sure your company is well-positioned to better serve your patients. Here’s what you need to know about telehealth.

Are you ready for the telehealth revolution? Understanding what this new healthcare trend is and how it can rewrite the healthcare industry as we know it is important to make sure your company is well-positioned to better serve your patients. Here’s what you need to know about telehealth.

The word “telehealth” gets used a lot, especially among healthcare circles. But, what exactly is telehealth? According to the Mayo Clinic, telehealth is defined as “ the use of digital information and communication technologies, such as computers and mobile devices, to access health care services remotely and manage your health care.” 

This can include a wide range of technologies and services that patients can access to empower them to achieve their health goals, for a fraction of the cost of traditional healthcare options.

What does telehealth “look” like?

It is important to note that telehealth is more than seeing a doctor through a mobile app or using video conferencing technology to follow-up with a specialist. Instead, telehealth can also include:

  • Using a mobile device to track and share food logs, medication prescriptions, dosing guidelines, even blood sugar levels with medical professionals who can respond to the patient in real-time.
  • Accessing educational information about a medical condition or getting a notification through an app for daily reminders to manage a chronic illness. 
  • Leveraging technology to monitor vital signs and make lifestyle adjustments to prevent setbacks.
  • Scheduling appointments, reviewing test results, requesting medical advice, or getting preventative care reminders through a mobile application. 

With today’s technology capabilities, the scope of what telehealth can involve is limitless. And, as more health and wellness providers find ways to use telehealth to increase patient access to healthcare, expect to see even more innovative techniques to enhance patient health outcomes.

The key to understanding telehealth and the impact it is having on the healthcare industry is rooted in knowing the goals that telehealth is empowering patients and medical professionals to achieve.

Here are the top reasons telehealth is here to stay:

     1. Provides greater access to rural populations

With nearly 62 million Americans living in rural areas, underserved by traditional medical means, telehealth gives them the opportunity to get routine medical treatment, at an affordable cost.

      2. Makes medical care more available to people with limited mobility

Getting to doctor’s appointments can be challenging, especially for those with chronic, debilitating conditions. It is estimated that telehealth reduces the transportation costs for patients with disabilities, resulting in $479 million in savings per year.

     3. Improves patient communication and quality of care

With telehealth, patients can get immediate support to monitor their health and connect with medical providers to ensure they are following their guidance to achieve optimal health outcomes.

     4. Enables patients to manage their own care

From mobile apps that can help patients lose weight, to technology to assist diabetics in controlling their blood sugar levels, to remote monitoring capabilities, telehealth has enabled patients to receive around the clock healthcare support.

     5. Gives patients direct support from specialists

Patients no longer have to wait or travel long distances to see specialists for appointments. Telehealth makes it possible for patients with unique health challenges to get the medical attention they need, regardless of their ability to travel to in-person specialist appointments.

Though the inherent benefits of telehealth are obvious, many patients remain skeptical of its accuracy and are hesitant to share medical information over online channels. In addition, as older patients continue to opt for in-person doctor’s visits, making telehealth technology easy to navigate is a must to increase adoption rates.

Bottom line: Telehealth is on pace to radically change how patients manage their health. However, exactly how fast this shift will happen, is yet to be determined.