The Benefits of Telemedicine Software
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America's doctor shortage helps demonstrate the proverb: Necessity is the Mother of invention. Telemedicine software helps doctors and other medical providers connect with and treat patients in underserved areas, as well as those who experience mobility challenges.
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Also known as telehealth, telemedicine takes advantage of technology to offer patients – and physicians – greater convenience and time savings, as well as financial benefits. Patients engage more fully in their care, becoming proactive in their health and taking responsibility for their own wellness in new ways. Doctors also use telehealth software to collaborate with other doctors and even as part of medical student training.
As telemedicine grows in popularity and acceptance, technology continues improving and even policy has adapted to support this new healthcare reality.
Serving Underserved Populations
It's no secret that even highly populated areas have suffered a doctor shortage for years, a shortage predicted to continue growing. Reasons vary, but the end result is that there aren't enough doctors to ensure patients are able to receive care quickly, or even have access to a primary care physician without driving for hours. If you live in an underserved area and need to see a specialist, it's even more challenging.
Telemedicine software helps physicians remotely connect with patients, using video chat features and healthcare kiosks. Rural areas in particular feel the pinch of too few doctors. At the same time, many doctors are leaving areas where practicing medicine is just too expensive. Add in an aging population experiencing chronic health issues and the need for a solution to the doctor shortage becomes acute.
Technology solutions help patients monitor their conditions at home, with the physician receiving those data straight from the monitoring device. For example, patients with hypertension or diabetes can use home blood pressure and glucose monitors. These smart devices communicate directly with the physician's telehealth software. From there, physicians may make changes to dosages, approve prescription refills, or conduct checkups via remote chat. Of course, if the patient's condition requires an office visit, that may be arranged as well.
Greater Convenience with Telemedicine
Though most people equate telemedicine with patients who have limited access to doctors, the truth is that the vast majority of people have expressed a desire for more convenient, easy access to healthcare providers. Patients who have minor issues but still require an official diagnosis, those requiring follow-up care after an ER or urgent care visit, or who need a primary care physician to provide a referral to a specialist, all benefit from telemedicine services.
Physicians also benefit from this level of convenience. Primary care physicians electronically share diagnostics with specialists, who then review patient histories as time permits. Collaboration is a breeze, as are trainings. Doctors are also able to devote more time to patients whose conditions require in-office visits, improving the level of care provided to all of their patients.
Telemedicine = Healthcare Savings
In addition to time savings, Telemedicine offers a variety of financial benefits for both doctor and patient.
- Attracts new patients
- Reduces non-necessary ER and urgent care visits
- Reduces no-shows
- Reduces overhead, allowing for a flexible remote work schedule
- Reduces transportation expenses
- Turns doctors' on-call hours into billable time
Improved Access to Specialists
Telehealth immediately expands access to specialists for both patients and medical practices. It also makes it quick and easy to conduct appointments whose only purpose is to provide a patient with a referral to a specialist. For example, if a patient presents with a skin problem requiring treatment by a dermatologist, the primary care physician has two telemedicine options:
- 1.Treat the patient in-office and then share images of the afflicted area with the dermatologist. The dermatologist can review the images and, if a diagnosis can be made, outline treatment such as medications.
- 2.Treat the patient via video chat and provide the referral to a dermatologist.
Doctors are also able to easily collaborate on a case, consult specialists regarding specific aspects or questions, and work with off-site radiologists for diagnostic purposes.
Improved Patient Engagement
The explosive growth in technology, coupled with its greater affordability, engages patients in their healthcare like never before. There are home devices that allow easy monitoring of glucose, blood pressure, and more, as well as smartphone apps and wearable devices to monitor fitness levels. Many of these devices allow direct communication with the patient's physician.
Patients are also enjoying a greater understanding of their health. It's a proactive, holistic lifestyle approach to wellness. What's more, when patients do visit the doctor, their greater engagement leads to more productive exams, thanks to the patient's improved clarity on symptoms and more incisive questions for the doctor to answer.