The Future of Telemedicine

With official COVID-19 safety measures everychanging, many providers and patients alike are beginning to question the future of telemedicine.

However, it is time to accept telemedicine as a permanent part of the medical industry. According to mHealth Intelligence, 96% of surveyed providers believe that telehealth’s role will continue to grow in the industry. Telemedicine is not a temporary measure for the pandemic, but an essential tool for the future of medicine. It reduces costs for both the provider and patient, while maintaining a strong relationship from the comfort of the patient’s own home. 

Telemedicine has a 19% savings over inpatient care cost. This savings derives from fewer patient transportations and boosted efficiency of hospital staff. 

When patients see their provider directly, it saves staff time and money. Phone lines are freed up, lines become shorter, and patients enjoy fewer hoops to jump through to see their provider. This is not a COVID-19-specific problem, but a chronic issue facing the medical industry that is being addressed through telemedicine. 

For some, the fear of attracting illness at the hospital still exists, despite medical facilities being safer than other public environments. Hopkins Medicine reported fewer patients visiting their provider for fear of COVID-19. Telemedicine provides security to patients and allows them to catch illness in its early stages vs. later on.

In the right settings, the quality of telemedicine visits are identical to face-to-face appointments. Patients with mobility issues, lack of transportation, or in rural areas do not want to drive out to a medical facility for antibiotics or follow-up appointments. Telemedicine bypasses these systems to give patients easier access to their provider in situations where a physical exam is not necessary for quality care. 

This also allows patients to see their provider while on vacation or in a variety of environments. The reduced wait times lowers the number of hospital admissions by 38%.

One of the main arguments against telemedicine is the loss of the doctor/patient relationship. However, the further we look into telemedicine the more we find benefits, not negatives, to online visits.

Affinia affiliates have been overwhelmingly in favor of speaking to patients in their natural environment. Patients seem more relaxed and more likely to give honest answers than if they were in the exam room. By allowing more control over the visit, patients become more confident. This leads to more relaxed and open communication between both parties.

One provider told the story of diagnosing a patient’s heart failure. During the telemedicine visit, the patient had to change locations from one room to another in order to better speak with the physician. It was at this time that the provider noticed how the patient walked, in addition to their home environment (frequently traveling up and down stairs), that he was able to give the patient better advice and an accurate diagnosis of their condition.

In summation, telemedicine is not a substitution for inpatient visits. It is its own practice that has a continued place in the healthcare field.

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