The 5 benefits of telehealth - Asset Display Page

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By Johanna Rodríguez

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July 12, 2019

The 5 benefits of telehealth

How today’s technology will democratize healthcare.

Imagine a world where the majority of the population has access to quality healthcare. A world in which the delivery of health services is comfortable, convenient and cost-effective. A world where geography and income isn’t a barrier to healthcare. A world in which proactive remote healthcare management can help you avoid trips to the emergency room.

This is the promise of telehealth, and that promise is becoming a reality.

Telehealth vs. Telemedicine

Telehealth is the umbrella term for a set of technologies and methodologies which leverage information and communications systems to provide the tools for health professionals, patients and caregivers to promote best health practices and prevent the worsening of chronic or acute conditions.

Telemedicine, a branch of telehealth, is the management of patient health data and the sharing of that data with health professionals so they can deliver better care, provide accurate diagnoses and generate appropriate treatment plans.

The Technology Is In Our Phones and Homes

The technology already exists. Most standard smartphones, tablets, wearables and PCs have the capability to track and monitor your health, and enable the two-way communication between patients and medical professionals.

There are dozens if not hundreds of apps on the market today. Many countries regulate these applications to ensure they have clinical support, improving patient confidence in their trustworthiness.

The Technology Is In Our Phones and Homes

The technology already exists. Most standard smartphones, tablets, wearables and PCs have the capability to track and monitor your health, and enable the two-way communication between patients and medical professionals.

There are dozens if not hundreds of apps on the market today. Many countries regulate these applications to ensure they have clinical support, improving patient confidence in their trustworthiness.

1. Managing Ongoing Care

Patients who need ongoing care, such as patients with chronic conditions like diabetes or cancer, or pregnant mothers, or even pediatric patients, can effectively manage their health using telemedicine applications and avoid costly trips to the emergency room. Educational alerts can be delivered via mobile devices. Health alerts can be delivered to doctors. Local clinics in rural areas can establish communications with specialists in large cities to learn how to treat and manage chronic conditions.

2. Self-care via Mobile Applications

Telemedicine also helps patients through the delivery of preventative healthcare. Special diets or exercise plans can be administered on a day by day, or even an hourly basis. Patients with chronic conditions, and their caregivers, can  also manage their conditions by receiving proactive alerts and lessons from automated applications, with the full support of health professionals.

3. Access to Specialists

Today medical specialists are concentrated in major cities, making it difficult for residents of poor rural areas to access the care they need. Telehealth enables local clinics to receive knowledge remotely from a cancer, heart or diabetes doctor, for example, and administer the appropriate care. Telehealth also helps specialists, allowing them to increase their coverage outside their immediate area, reduce the costs of in-person visits, and increase billing.

4. Remote Care

In rural areas, especially in third world countries, patients often must travel large distances just to see a doctor. The trip from villages to the large cities to visit the nearest specialty clinic is often costly and can take up to a day. An inconvenience for patients with scarce resources, especially when the visit is just to schedule an appointment, only to repeat the arduous journey a few weeks later to see the doctor.

5. Social Media Functionality for Peer Support

Telehealth applications also provide online communities to provide peer support for patients. The social proof and light-hearted peer pressure of these communities (which can be grouped by condition, health goal or location) can be more effective at changing behavior than just a doctor’s recommendations. For example, participants can see the testimony of fellow community members when they post the positive results of a certain regimen or  treatment recommended or approved by their physicians. Additionally, patients can find answers on how to handle everyday health situations  by posting questions to the group and receiving helpful suggestions from medical professionals who are part of the community.

Conclusion

Telemedicine is helping to democratize healthcare by increasing access to quality treatment and knowledge. The cost-effective technologies already exist via the ubiquitous use of smartphones. Patients can now manage their own care, prevent chronic conditions from worsening, gain access to specialists, reduce the cost and inconvenience of in-person visits, and participate in community discussions with fellow patients.

The missing piece of the puzzle, which companies are quickly resolving, is the integration of patient health data through mobile devices with clinical health information systems. Telemedicine is quickly becoming a reality.

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