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7 Advantages and Benefits of Telemedicine
Telemedicine refers to the practice of using telecommunications technology to evaluate, diagnose, and care for patients at a distance. Although the approach has been around for decades in a limited fashion, it is quickly becoming an important and mainstream channel of healthcare delivery in the United States.
Telemedicine is not a separate medical specialty. Rather, it is a method of providing clinical care. Included in telemedicine are patient consultations conducted through audio and video conferencing, remote monitoring of vital signs, nurse advice lines, the transmission of images, and test results.
1. Decreases Strain on Healthcare System
Patient access to care is a substantial problem in the United States. Patient care access is not a reality for many patients across the country. Between appointment availability issues and troubles getting a ride to the clinician office, patient care access has many associated challenges.
Scheduling an appointment with their primary care physician and specialists can be difficult for patients, and they may be required to wait a significant amount of time to get into the office. When they do finally make and keep appointments, they are required to take a considerable amount of time from their day.
2. Reduces Rural Barriers to Care
One of the most significant benefits of telemedicine is its ability to address obstacles associated with delivering care in rural areas of the country.
Rural healthcare settings can benefit from telemedicine technology as it effectively shrinks the distances between nodes of rural care, which can reduce patients’ driving time, make healthcare more accessible for patients who live in communities with few specialist options, and promote patient-centered care.
3. Aids Patients With Limited Mobility
For those patients who struggle with traveling to care settings, telemedicine can make a significant difference in wellbeing.
For older adults who face transportation challenges, healthcare delivered via technology from a doctor off-site may be the future of making sure seniors get the healthcare when and where they need it most.
Senior patients aren’t the only people dealing with mobility issues. For patients who don’t have a reliable means of transportation or who struggle with mobility challenges or disabilities that make traveling difficult, remote access can be a huge quality of life improvement. This is especially true for those living with chronic conditions for which frequent checkups are necessary.
4. Expedites Timely Care
A considerable challenge facing healthcare is the ability to direct patients to the right provider as fast as possible. On the way to getting to the best provider, patients may make unnecessary trips to the emergency room, urgent care clinic, or their primary care physician.
5. Supports Independence
For many older patients, maintaining independence is a high priority. Telemedicine can play a pivotal role in helping people avoid reliance on others and institutionalization.
87% of seniors age 65 and older and 71% of those between 50 and 64 want to age in place and will require home-based technology to make that a reality.
6. Delivers Cost Savings
On top of all of its clinical benefits, telemedicine can provide financial ones as well.
One recent study found that “Net cost savings per telemedicine visit was calculated to range from $19–$121 per visit.
7. Offers Extensive Telemedicine Technology Options
List of the types of telemedicine technology that can be helpful to patients include:
- Mobile phone or another device to upload information for review by a clinician.
- Online patient portal to view test results, schedule appointments, request prescription refills and email a doctor.
- Online system for ordering of testing supplies and medications.
- Email, text, and/or phone reminders for preventive care.
- Organizations could leverage these and other technologies to improve existing services or provide new services in their efforts to better care for patients.