Telehealth has been around for a while. According to a 2012 publication from the US Institute of Medicine titled The Role of Telehealth in an Evolving Health Care Environment, it was first used in the ’50s and ’60s. Today, it’s emerged as a creative solution to ease healthcare workloads amid COVID-19.
The pandemic is now easing, and physicians are now rediscovering telehealth for non-COVID applications. In fact, Globe Newswire reports that the global market for the technology is growing at a CAGR of 24.8% and is projected to reach a size of USD 49.21 billion by 2027.
Arguably, the drivers behind this growth are linked to the evolution of telehealth alongside modern technology. These have revealed a number of advantages that physicians and other medical professionals are keen to benefit from in the years to come.
Benefits Driving Non-COVID Use Cases of Physician Telehealth Today
Enhanced Healthcare Administration
Unlike telemedicine, telehealth also includes non-clinical remote services — such as digitalized operations. Manually maintaining patient records is one aspect of healthcare administration that’s particularly prone to inaccuracy from human error. HIT Consultant explains that this can be eliminated entirely with electronic health records (EHR) to make information across various healthcare services more accessible for physicians. Platforms like Epic comply with local healthcare regulations and use experienced HIPAA-compliant medical transcriptionists, further ensuring quality and security.
Through asynchronous or store-and-forward telehealth, physicians can refer to specialists, request prescriptions, and order lab tests from a single platform to answer all of a patient’s concerns in one visit. Dedicated end-to-end telehealth solution Wheel exemplifies how primary care physicians can connect to a broad network of experts including nurse practitioners, psychiatrists, and pharmacists all on a single platform. This effectively allows specialty services to be carried out in a primary care setting — often the first touchpoint between patients and healthcare services — with minimal workflow disruption.
Telehealth won’t break the bank, either. According to mHealth Intelligence, both virtual consults and remote patient monitoring (RPM) programs facilitate increased convenience for patients, resulting in lower no-show appointment rates, fewer emergency hospital visits, and lower readmission rates overall. Meanwhile, it eliminates travel expenses for both doctors and patients.
Vendors like Beam Health even allow you to subscribe to per-consult pricing plans for telehealth services. All this can help physicians significantly cut down on operational costs.
Telehealth can also help give rural communities the same care available in urban centers. EHR systems, store-and-forward platforms, and educational resources can help physicians and other rural healthcare providers improve the quality of their services. With reduced overhead from telehealth, community healthcare entities like Remote Doctors 4 Africa — which we’ve previously featured on the site — can procure hospital-grade diagnostic equipment. Per-consult pricing for telehealth platforms means an enhanced reach will also improve one’s bottom line.
Improved patient outcomes
Probably most importantly, telehealth facilitates better continuity in patient care. Its convenience means patients are more likely to set regular appointments. Meanwhile, eliminating travel time allows for longer periods of patient assessment. The Medical Device Network adds that wearable medical devices like ECG monitors, blood pressure monitors, and biosensors make it easier to conduct RPM. This all results in more accurate diagnoses, better treatment, and improved patient outcomes across the board.
As the world enters the Digital Age, so must the healthcare industry. The many uses of telehealth specifically prove that such a shift will only be beneficial for the medical field.
Ed Plumb is a freelance writer who specializes in pieces on up-and-coming trends in the healthcare industry. Today, he continues his pre-pandemic routine of traveling to different parts of the world to search for both global and region-specific topics that may interest medical professionals.