How Telemedicine Is Improving Patient Outcomes

How telemedicine is improving patient outcomes

 

There are plenty of reasons to love telemedicine – it’s convenient, affordable, and accessible to pretty much everyone. During the coronavirus pandemic, telemedicine is serving as the bridge that connects patients with access to healthcare. In fact, healthcare providers are already seeing 50 to 175 times more patients via telehealth than before the pandemic. But is telemedicine as effective as in-person care? After all, fast food is also convenient, affordable, and accessible, but it’s far from being healthy.    

Of course, telemedicine and fast food isn’t an apt comparison, however, consumers do prefer options that are convenient and affordable, and in the new age of healthcare consumerism convenience is king. Fortunately, all the data shows that telemedicine is not only as effective as in-person care, but that it contributes to better patient outcomes in several ways.

Below are some of the specific ways that telemedicine is improving patient outcomes and how virtual visits are resulting in healthier patients.

Reduced risk of exposure

One of the biggest priorities for physicians and healthcare systems alike is keeping patients safe from exposure to other infections when visiting a hospital or clinic. Unfortunately, the CDC estimates that one in 25 patients in U.S. hospitals is dealing with a hospital-acquired infection on a given day. By moving traditional in-person visits to a virtual setting, the risk of exposing patients to infectious diseases is reduced to zero. 

Especially now, with COVID-19, patients exhibiting symptoms can remain at home and be assessed without exposing medical staff or others to the virus. Doctors can then communicate treatment plans and monitor progress.

Fewer barriers for treatment

From reliable transportation, time-consuming commutes, to finding responsible childcare options, there are plenty of obstacles that can interfere with receiving care. All these challenges can make patients less likely to make an appointment or seek preventative care. For rural patients or those in underserved areas, there’s the added challenge of finding providers within a reasonable distance, not to mention specialty providers. Telemedicine removes these barriers and makes healthcare more accessible and increases the likelihood that patients will seek out treatment and arrive to an appointment.

Frequent touchpoints for follow-up care

Follow-up appointments are an important part in the recovery process. Similar to removing barriers for treatment, telemedicine makes it easier for frequent touchpoints to ensure patients are adopting and following recovery plans. Physicians can also quickly adjust plans based on progress updates to ensure patients are receiving the level of care they need.   

Broader access to specialties

Walk-in healthcare clinics are great for routine check-ups and non-life-threatening ailments, but they’re not equipped to handle a broader range of healthcare needs. For instance, if a patient has an unusual looking mole, the on-site physician will likely refer the patient to a dermatologist. What if the nearest dermatologist is a few hours away? Or a patient needs follow-up care with an orthopedic surgeon, but the closest one is a state over?

Telemedicine provides access to a broader range of specialists that aren’t restricted by geographical areas. For rural and historically underserved areas, this broad range of specialties opens up access for treatment that otherwise would be significantly delayed and could decrease the chances of a positive outcome.

Mental health resources

According to Census Bureau data from March 2020, one-third of Americans report clinically-significant symptoms of anxiety or clinical depression. If left untreated, these conditions have the potential to turn deadly, and projections from Well Being Trust estimate that COVID-19 related depression and despair could lead to anywhere from 27,644 to 154,037 additional deaths. But, where do patients turn when there’s already an existing shortage of mental health professionals and psychiatrists in the country?

Telemedicine services like teletherapy and telepsychiatry provide access to a critically needed psychiatrists and mental health professionals. For emergency departments, where long wait times oftentimes lead to worsening conditions, remote psychiatrists can quickly recommend a medication plan and limit unnecessary bed times waiting for a consultation.

Easier care for strokes and chronic illness

Millions of Americans require regular treatment for chronic illnesses, post-stroke care, and other conditions that hinder mobility. With the challenges associated with constantly going to and from appointments, telemedicine removes the need for every appointment to be in an office or clinic setting. Removing this burden improves monitoring and ensuring patients adhere to treatment plans.

Endless applications and outcomes

The convenience, affordability, and access telemedicine provides makes it easier for patients to be engaged with their health which leads to better patient outcomes. As patients continue to choose the more convenient option to healthcare, hospitals and healthcare systems that fail to expand services to telemedicine run the risk of being left behind.

To learn how having a partner in telemedicine can help jumpstart a telemedicine program, schedule a demo