Telemedicine has been around for a while, but it has only become widely popular since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic. As the pandemic subsides, telehealth technologies should stick around. That’s good news for patients. Read on to find out why.
Improved Access to Care
There are more factors than just fear of catching contagious diseases that influence patients’ decisions about when to seek medical care. Those who live in rural areas or in urban areas without easy access to transportation often have limited access to healthcare services. Telemedicine overcomes those geographical barriers to healthcare, benefiting patients in medically underserved or rural areas.
Increased Patient Engagement
Telemedicine makes it easier for patients to stay engaged with their own treatment plans. Patients with acute and chronic health conditions love the convenience and flexibility of virtual appointments, which encourage them to keep in touch with providers, report changes in their condition, or seek additional therapies. The result of this increased involvement is improved health and better patient outcomes.
Lower Patient Costs
Patients who use telemedicine platforms have fewer associated costs. They don’t need to pay for gas or bus fare, parking, childcare, or time off from work. Instead, they can access the healthcare they need from anywhere using any Internet-connected phone or laptop. Since virtual visits require less overhead for healthcare providers, they’re typically less expensive than traditional, in-person exams, as well.
Can Enhance Traditional Medicine
Not all conditions can be treated using telemedicine platforms alone. When this is the case, telemedicine can be combined with traditional diagnostic procedures and care delivery. Patients can have lab tests and diagnostic imaging procedures performed in-person, then have the information sent to their providers.
Many patients attend in-person doctors’ appointments then use virtual visits to facilitate check-ups, follow-up exams, and ongoing patient education. This is particularly helpful following surgeries and serious injuries or illnesses that can leave patients struggling to make it to traditional doctors’ appointments.
Fewer Missed Appointments
The level of convenience provided by telemedicine makes it much easier for patients to ensure that they can attend each appointment as scheduled. This helps both patients and providers by reducing patient no-shows. At facilities that have implemented telemedicine technologies, no-show rates often drop by as much as 50%.
Improved Patient Satisfaction Rates
Telemedicine providers use metrics like patient satisfaction to determine how effective their services are, so they keep careful track of this data. According to patient surveys, satisfaction rates range from 87 to 99%. Those who haven’t given virtual visits a shot yet will question why they waited so long.
Avoid Unnecessary ER Visits
Not sure whether to consider ongoing symptoms a minor annoyance or an indication of a serious underlying condition? Scheduling a virtual visit can avoid the need for an unnecessary trip to the ER. If the provider can’t diagnose the problem using virtual medicine or believes the patient should seek emergency care, he or she will recommend a hospital visit. Otherwise, the patient can get the medications and advice required to treat the problem from the comfort of home.
The Bottom Line
Telemedicine is here to stay. Most patients and providers are already excited about this change. Those who haven’t used a telemedicine platform yet don’t know what they’re missing, but they’ll be sure to feel the same way.