Technology has paved the path for growth for ages and continues to do so. As new technologies emerge, it changes the way the world operates. Technology has inspired our communication with friends and family, making it easier and affordable. Similar is the case with online shopping. Almost everything around us is inspired by technology these days, including healthcare.
People these days have access to a range of Telehealth services that make it easier to receive quality healthcare. Although the concept was initially launched to support and provide healthcare services to people living in the remote areas who do not have adequate clinical facilities in the vicinity, Telehealth is a concept that is being adopted at a steady rate.
What is the definition of Telehealth?
Combining healthcare with Information Communication Technology (ICT) or digital information is given the term Telehealth, which is also known as e-health or m-health. It is a widely known concept that provides people living in remote areas with quality healthcare using mobile technology and computing devices, either in a medical facility or from home.
There are many ways of benefiting from Telehealth services for acquiring consultation, monitoring health, receiving prescriptions, second opinions, and more. Telehealth was introduced with specific objectives, which are:
- To make healthcare accessible and affordable to people who live in remote or isolated areas
- To structure healthcare services as readily available and convenient for people with disabilities, lack of transport, shortage of time, and for people with limited mobility, including senior citizens
- To offer easy access to medical practitioners and specialists
- To facilitate patient-doctor communication by making it coordinated and swift
- To provide patients with a self-management portal that can be used to access medical history and progress
- To maintain electronic patient-data that can be exchanged between health institutions for better diagnosis of complex conditions
- To allow patients to schedule appointments via electronic mediums
How does Telehealth work?
Telehealth tends to replicate a visit to the doctor, which includes monitoring vitals, consulting the patients, diagnosing the problem, prescribing medications, and conducting follow-ups. It also includes recommending lab tests, interpreting results, and referring to specialists, if needed.
Telehealth makes it easier for people to obtain professional medical advice without the need to visit a physical facility. For example, patients suffering from diabetes can use Telehealth to upload their diet logs, blood sugar (glucose) levels, medications, and any symptoms they feel using their computing devices or mobiles, which can be accessed by consulting doctors electronically. The doctor can then prescribe the course of action to be taken to manage the condition by recommending medications, lab tests, etc. The test results can be uploaded to the portal to maintain historical data that can be retrieved in future. Patients can also download mobile applications to record their information, which will be used to recommend their diet plans for optimal health management.
Types of Telehealth Solutions available for Patients
Patients have access to various Telehealth platforms for managing their health, which are:
Many clinics or large healthcare institutions now offer patient portals that are used to maintain health records and patient-doctor communication. A patient portal is used to interact with doctors/nurses, to receive prescriptions, refills, and acts as a one-point interaction tool. You can schedule your doctor’s appointment, chat with the doctor, or talk over the phone to receive a medical consultation.
A patient portal is a secure means of discussing sensitive medical information with the doctor, unlike email communications. It also allows the doctor to retrieve patient history, which is elementary for diagnosing a condition.
Thanks to technological advancement and development of video conferencing tools, doctors and patients can now communicate via video calls. Video conferencing mimics a doctor’s visit, where the doctor can conduct a visual examination, which is imperative in cases of injuries or for understanding a condition that requires visual verification. It also allows patients to interact with doctors on a personal level, eliminating the need to personally visit the doctor’s office.
Videoconferencing is a convenient tool for patients who have limited mobility or for patients living in remote areas, without access to quality healthcare. It also helps in receiving specialist or second opinions for complex and complicated medical cases.
Virtual clinics offer a reliable alternative to drop-in clinics and can save you time and money. It also helps the patient monitor their progress and receive on-going care from doctors when a personal visit is not possible. Virtual clinics are also integrated into corporate situations that are an added value for employees, who can consult online doctors with their symptoms and conditions. Virtual clinics can also help in managing patient traffic where minor illnesses or known diseases can be diagnosed by asking the patient specific questions. This would allow managing heavy patient flow and will only re-direct cases that require personalized care.
A virtual clinic would also allow patients to access the clinic’s library, giving them access to a range of educational data to self-manage their conditions using professional guidance. For patients who need constant medical attention, but suffer from limited mobility, a virtual clinic is perhaps the best alternative.
Telehealth and Online Appointment Scheduling
Medical providers and doctors are losing customers each day and are missing out on visits from existing patients or new ones. Do you wonder what the most critical factor that contributes towards people not visiting their physician when they fall ill is?
This could be due to the fact they are either lazy or because their doctors don’t offer online appointment scheduling.
With the introduction of online medical appointment scheduling, technology makes accomplishing daily tasks as easy as never before. Majority of the patients now use technology. And here are five reasons why you should consider using online medical appointment scheduling for your healthcare facility.
1. Attract new patients
With the recent shift in trends, new patients are more likely to search for a doctor’s office online.
In fact, studies show that almost 72% of patients use online reviews as the first resource for finding a new healthcare provider. Offering an option to schedule an appointment over the internet contributes towards establishing your business’s presence online and attracts new patients.
Furthermore, it is essential for you to consider why patients move from working with one practitioner to another. While bad experience is one reason that triggers a patient to consider changing doctors other reasons include not getting the best returns for their bucks. Therefore, it is very crucial for you to attract them by offering self-scheduling services and of course, a digital check-in.
2. Reduce waiting time for your patients
While the number one reason most Americans skip visiting their doctor’s office still remains to be the long waiting time. However, by offering online scheduling to your patients, you not only make scheduling an appointment faster and more convenient but you can also ensure that you don’t ‘double’ book by accident causing your patients to wait very long at the doctor’s office!
3. Make office related tasks easy
Online scheduling systems significantly reduce manual tasks and make managing appointments very easy. Bookings, re-bookings, cancellations, reminder and other manual tasks are handled quickly online. What’s better is that digital services can reduce any fuss that is often associated with manual appointment scheduling systems.
With your patients scheduling their appointments online, the volume of incoming calls lowers over time and allows your front desk to utilize their spare time by offering value added services such as follow-up calls, payment collections and other services that ultimately will help boost your revenue.
4. Avoid no-shows and fill all available appointments
An online scheduling system, as opposed to the traditional phone-call scheduling, reduces the number of people who will schedule an appointment but would fail to show up. Moreover, online scheduling system understands that every slot that goes empty is valuable and therefore, works wonders when it comes to last-minute and same-day scheduling.
5. Keep up with technology
While keeping up with the ever-changing trends in technology is difficult and that implementing specific changes takes time. However, it has become increasingly critical for medical offices to keep up with technology to increase efficiency.
Our upcoming generations prefer to carry out tasks online as opposed to making phone calls. Therefore, it is essential that you offer online appointment scheduling to maintain your competitive edge and provide exceptional services to your patients with the right selection of telehealth services.
Monitoring Patient Health Remotely
Telehealth has played an influential role in developing technology that supports healthcare delivery using online channels, which includes monitoring patient health remotely.
Patients can enter their routine, lab results, vitals, and other information that can be accessed by a doctor(s) to offer professional guidance. Transmitting patient information wirelessly saves time, money, and effort. It can be highly beneficial in critical situations when a patient requires immediate doctor consultation for emergencies. Moreover, exchanging patient information in Telehealth is quicker and convenient, as doctors can share the data instantly with specialists and senior consultants to obtain expert advice on the case.
Whenever doctors get involved with complex medical conditions, they seek help from other doctors or healthcare institutions to offer patients the right guidance. Conventional information exchange models are time-consuming that can put patients at risk. However, with Telehealth, exchanging information between two doctors or healthcare institutions can be achieved quickly.
Telehealth or e-health is still in its early stage and is mostly restricted to clinical service. There can be challenges faced by doctors and patients in Telehealth. However, as technology emerges, so will the options for incorporating Telemedicine and Telehealth into medical practice.
There is a promising future where virtual clinics would be equipped with better tools to monitor patient health from a distance. Also, Telehealth apps will penetrate the market quickly as it offers patients anonymity and facilitates communication with doctors faster.
Telehealth also helps people save time and money by avoiding doctor’s visits unless it becomes mandatory. Patients can also use online healthcare portals to schedule and remind themselves of their doctor’s appointment.