As the trend in healthcare continues to be driven by convenience, Telehealth is leading the charge and changing the way we receive medical treatment.
Patients are favoring quick and convenient healthcare solutions over traditional doctors’ offices and hospital visits — the advent and subsequently rapid growth of retail clinics are a testament to the fact that patients feel cures should be ever closer at hand, as Forbes emphasizes. Americans now visit the 1,800 such clinics over 10 million times a year— with no signs of slowing down. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation explains how 58.6% of American families who choose retail clinics over doctor’s offices or hospitals do so because of the convenience and availability of these clinics, which typically offer better hours and locations without the need to schedule an appointment in advance.
These same desires are the driving force behind the growing popularity of Telehealth, according to the Center for Connected Health, which is bringing the doctor’s office to tablets and phones everywhere. This expanding collection of technologies and techniques is revolutionizing healthcare, public health, and health education. Ranging from dentistry and counseling to home health, disaster management, and everything in between, Telehealth is undoubtedly taking the healthcare industry by storm.
The term Telehealth describes the wide range of mobile technologies that provide healthcare services via our smart devices. It is not a specific clinical service, but rather a collection of ways to deliver care and education more effectively and efficiently.
The true power of Telehealth lies in its implementation of mobile technology, which is also what makes it so convenient. Through four specific means of application — live videoconferencing, store-and-forward, remote patient monitoring, and mobile health — Telehealth is eliminating the need for in-person visits and expediting the exchange of information.
Live videoconferencing allows patients and doctors to communicate “face-to-face” remotely, and has quickly become a popular way to address common symptoms, like sore throats and chronic conditions alike, as U.S. News observes. In fact, 64% of patients say they are willing to see their doctor using video chat over a drive to the provider’s office, according to 7 Medical.
Store-and-forward technologies allow healthcare practitioners to quickly and easily share health histories and other data digitally. Similarly, advances in remote patient monitoring systems let providers track and collect personal health and medical data from patients in different locations. This helps reduce readmission rates while eliminating the need for in-person follow-ups.
Finally, mobile health (mHealth) makes use of apps that often synthesize these three modes of application. These apps integrate video appointments and messaging, patient records, prescription services, self-scheduling and more, streamlining the entire process and making care available 24/7. Still others take advantage of the collaborative capabilities of mobile connectivity, making for more effective problem-solving and enhanced educational resources.
Telehealth is also changing the way patients pay for their treatments. SingleCare has partnered with American Well, a leader in telehealth services to offer members affordable, on-demand video appointments integrated into the site, so users can connect with a doctor, registered dietician, or even mental health specialist and receive treatment within minutes without leaving the couch (or bed). SingleCare provides users with a massive online healthcare database, which can help members search for a provider, services, prescriptions, and even symptoms. Members pay only for the treatments that they use, resulting in an average savings of 48% on medical care. The future of healthcare has arrived.