The Doctor is…Online

Everything you need to know about telemedicine
The rise of mobile technology and increased universality of internet access has led to a demand for instant gratification. We expect to find information at the click of a button; and healthcare information is one of the primary search topics. According to a recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life project, more than 90 million Americans have searched for health-related topics online since 2001.

With so many people seeking medical information online, online medical consultations were the next logical step. In fact, a report by Mordor Intelligence predicts global telemedicine will be worth more than $66 billion by the end of 2021.

Telehealth and telemedicine, what’s the difference?
“Telehealth” and “telemedicine” refer to healthcare services between patients and providers that occur online. Telehealth originated as a way for patients in rural areas to access healthcare professionals more easily. Today, telehealth refers to a broader landscape of health services, such as training, education, nutrition, and general wellness. Telemedicine targets more specific, clinical health services, such as doctor visits, consultations, and pharmacological management.

TELEHEALTH
Broad health services
Not limited to clinical/medical
Examples include provider training, patient support groups, and continuing medical education in addition to clinical services
TELEMEDICINE
Clinical and specific health services
Patient-to-doctor or doctor-to-patient
Examples include remote patient monitoring, prescription modification, diagnostic consultations, and follow-up visits

The telehealth provider in 2019
As healthcare continues to climb the list of service-on-demand industries, providers should integrate the use of virtual health for primary and specialty care. Additionally, providers should consider integrating the other on-demand services telehealth provides Telehealth also offers financial benefits for providers and medical practices.

According to Healthcare Finance, missed appointments cost providers $150 billion annually, and an hour open or no-show slot typically costs physicians $200. By allowing patients to self-schedule and access their health records online, the cost of administration and the likelihood of missed appointments decreases.

Marketing telehealth to patients
The best way to let patients know telehealth services are available to them is by adding this service to the practice’s website. Providers should consider ways to optimize their websites so patients and search engines can navigate and understand what’s being offered. Healthcare providers need to provide timely, relevant, and search-engine-friendly content to stay relevant to patients.

Increasing patient access to providers
Telehealth services offer easier access to busy medical professionals, resulting in increased patient engagement.. Providers now have more widespread access to information as well, including continuing medical education online. By making it easier to meet with patients, telehealth improves job satisfaction and makes it easier for providers to balance work and home life.

How the digital patient benefits
The ways patients can benefit from telehealth is growing as more services become available. For example, the speed and accessibility of telehealth results in shorter wait times for care. It’s been shown that patients served via telehealth or telemedicine services experience an equal, if not higher, level of care in comparison to traditional office visits. A study by Accenture reported that a majority of individuals believe using technology to manage health can potentially improve health and the quality of care.

It’s no surprise consumers expect With healthcare holding the number 2 spot for top-funded on-demand industries, it’s no surprise consumers expect greater convenience and connectivity. The scope of services available include:
-Simple check-ups
-Follow-up appointments
-Specialist consultations
-Access to their own personal health records
-Access to healthcare information

Advances in secure communication between healthcare providers and their patients make transferring sensitive, health-related information increasingly safe. Remote healthcare means saving time and mobility, as it eliminates the need for patients to make frequent office visits or unnecessary hospital visits.

Technological impacts of telehealth
BBC research projected the U.S. market for clinical healthcare information technologies is expected to reach $19.7 billion in 2019. These technologies include electronic health records, telemedicine, and picture archiving and communication systems.

Telehealth technologies have the potential to address, or even solve, three of the leading problems faced by the U.S. healthcare system:
-Maldistribution of healthcare resources, including facilities and practitioners
-Limited access to healthcare resources for specific segments of the population, including people living in rural or geographically isolated areas, and those who are physically confined or who are not well enough to travel
-Continued rise in healthcare costs in the public and private sectors

Additionally, medical wearables provide value to healthcare with a focus on diagnosis, treatment, patient monitoring, and prevention. Wearables offer multiple advantages to healthcare professionals as well, such as personalized programs, early detection, remote monitoring, medication reminders, and data collection and recording. Like smart watches, continuous glucose monitoring devices, smart bandages and pills, and remote patient monitoring will be common in the future healthcare industry.

Providing up-to-the-minute data on patients’ progress
Electronic health record (EHR) programs, like eClinicalWorks, allow administrative staff, nurses, and physicians to enter all patient information into their cloud-based system. These programs allow patients to access a portal where they can view test results, see current prescriptions, and send direct messages to their provider. Additionally, they offer a telemedicine solution, healow TeleVisits, which offers patients “the quality of an in-office visit from the comfort of their home or office. This service expands traditional office visits by allowing providers and patients to consult with medical experts from anywhere around the globe.

Cable giant Comcast is developing an in-home health system that will monitor basic health metrics using ambient sensors. This device is targeted toward “at-risk” demographics, like seniors and individuals with disabilities, with a focus on whether someone is making frequent trips to the bathroom or spending more time than usual in bed. According to CNBC, this system would bring Comcast into competition with a number of technology companies, including Google, Amazon, and Apple, which have also explored how to help older people “age in place,” or live independently for as long as possible.

The future of telehealth
As projections of investments and increasing funds for on-demand health services continue to grow, so too will the standards for service. Organizations could be forced to shed outdated approaches in order to keep up with patient demand. The industry is transforming as leading organizations blend on-demand service categories with health services, such as food, drink, and transportation. For example, patients with diabetes or heart disease can have foods specific to their diet delivered right to their door, and elderly patients can “age in place” as access to cleaning and care services becomes increasingly available. The industry will continue to transform as new entrants find ways to deliver cheaper, quicker, and more convenient care.

Author Bio

Stephanie Faughnan is a Marketing Associate at Ashworth Creative. Ashworth Creative is a boutique marketing agency located in Poughkeepsie, New York, providing award-winning advertising services to businesses in industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, non-profit, and higher education.

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