Standard healthcare is necessary, even amidst the times of a global pandemic. As COVID-19 swept across the world, medical professionals turned to telemedicine to remain available to their patients. But the question now is whether the popularity of telemedicine will hold in the years following the pandemic’s conclusion.
Telemedicine Offers a Number of Benefits
Patients have easier access to care when telemedicine options are available. This is excellent for those with disabilities that may make attending an appointment in person more difficult. Patients who are located further from their doctors also have easier access to the care they need when telemedicine is made available. Time and cost are also factors that can be attributed to the good experience patients have when using telemedicine.
The adoption of telemedicine by patients has been so positively accepted that 60% of patients have reported wanting to use technology more for healthcare purposes.
But the benefits aren’t just for the patients. Doctors will find that patients are 30% less likely to be no-shows for appointments. Virtual appointments can also be quicker than their in-person counterparts, allowing a doctor to see more patients. It also opens up the potential for more flexibility in scheduling.
Telemedicine’s Uses Are Expanding
Telemedicine may have been underutilized prior to the height of the pandemic but in the aftermath, we have seen just how far we can push technology to deliver necessary care to patients.
Today’s telemedicine solutions can be divided into synchronous and asynchronous telemedicine. This simply draws a division between telemedicine offers in real-time and communication done through portals or chatbots.
Telemedicine is being used for more than just yearly primary care visits. Other new uses for telemedicine include:
- Diabetes management
- Physical therapy
- Wound care management
- Dentistry for patient history taking
- Emergency departments for triage and discharge purposes
While not every service provided by medical professionals will translate well to telemedicine, like tooth extraction or surgery, more hands-off care can be provided through the use of telemedicine technology.
Advances in Telemedicine Technology Are Taking Hold
Remote health opportunities are extending beyond a simple portal or healthcare Zoom equivalent. Recent studies have focused on the use of apps and personal devices to monitor behaviors, symptoms, and vitals in a patient during their everyday life. This information is then being used to help diagnose patients and develop a care plan based on the data. This type of digital monitoring helps to create a clearer portrait of a patient’s health in comparison to self-reporting alone.
Regulation and Privacy Remain a Top Concern
Regulation and privacy for telehealth are under greater scrutiny as telemedicine becomes more and more common. Regulatory changes were made at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, some of which have become permanent. But it is not yet clear home many restrictions will be permanently lifted in the coming years, most of which have previously limited the type of care that can be provided through telehealth sessions.
Privacy is another concern both for patients and their providers. Telehealth platforms have been able to strengthen security and HIPAA compliance by offering strong authentication methods like biometrics and end-to-end encryption used to prevent anyone but the two parties from communicating.
Adopting Telemedicine As a Staple Within Your Practice
Patients have gotten a taste for telemedicine, and while some may be eager to return to a clinic in person, others are happy to keep up the distanced access to medical care.
For physicians who want to continue offering telemedicine appointments as a permanent solution beyond COVID-19, there are a number of considerations. The biggest of these concerns is privacy.
Physicians who want to make the switch or keep telemedicine on the table should consider:
- How telemedicine would change the workflow
- Which platform would work best for your clinic
- What licensing limitations are in place
- How telemedicine offerings may affect your insurance
Telemedicine is a move that may help your clinic stay competitive in the coming years as patients look for perks that make their healthcare visits more convenient.