Over the past few decades, there have been a number of technological advancements made in the medical field. These advancements have manifested in a number of areas, from improving digital imaging to electronic health records helping doctors and patients work together to achieve better outcomes for patients’ health. Another major advancement is the increasing popularity of telemedicine. This is an area that greatly changes the way people seek medical attention or advice, which vies for patients in a manner never seen in any other form of technology.
In general, telemedicine serves as a new option for patients and a new competitor for medical practices. Not long ago, Walgreens revealed that its mobile app was going to be expanded. Now, the app offers MDLive’s telehealth services to users in 25 states.
Adam Pellegrini, divisional vice president of Digital Health for Walgreens, stated that the company now provides connected services for customers that are highly convenient and a great advancement to the digital experience when patients want answers when it comes to their care. He said that telehealth services play an essential role in improving the outcomes of patients’ health and that the company would continue to work toward making choices easier for them. He concluded that the service’s convenience allows patients to choose the best option for them in digitally talking with a doctor or pharmacist or walking into a health clinic.
Retail healthcare outlets have been a huge concern for practices for years because they offer competition. However, when telehealth options are added to the mix, it creates an even more concerning situation for medical practices, which face losing patients and money. Patients may see telemedicine as a better option and lose their loyalty to their regular doctor, especially if practices don’t keep up with what healthcare consumers prefer at this time.
Normand E. Deschene, chief executive of Wellforce, which is the parent company of Tufts Medical Center and Lowell General Hospital, said that telemedicine technology has created a huge shift in the healthcare system. He said that systems that want to succeed are going to wholeheartedly embrace the technology and that they will succeed because it’s what the consumer wants. He pointed out that many industries listen to their consumers and follow what they want and that healthcare shouldn’t be an exception to that rule.
Although the ability to have a virtual doctor’s appointment is still a fairly new thing, more and more patients and doctors alike are growing ever aware and warmer to the idea. As a result, more practices are beginning to adopt telemedicine as an option. A study by the Healthcare Intelligence Network determined that 74 percent of medical organizations were planning to incorporate telemedicine into their practices within the next year. Another study, done by Cisco, determined that 74 percent of patients are at ease with the idea of digitally communicating with their doctors.
The announcement by Walgreens should send a definite message to medical practices that have been slow to adopt telemedicine technology. It’s better for everyone when patients have more options when it directly involves their care. If practices want to stay competitive, they will have to be more open to technology.