Telehealth Paves the Way for Better Health Outcomes
Since healthcare is such a serious matter, the public is most concerned with how telemedicine stacks up in terms of the quality of care offered. American Well reports that utilizing telemedicine can significantly minimize poor health outcomes resulting from chronic health problems. Considering that 45 percent of Americans suffer from chronic illnesses, as published by American Well, the promise of telehealth’s benefits is good news for many people.
There is substantial evidence that telemedicine improves health outcomes as a result of basic components key to this type of treatment. One difference between traditional care and telemedicine is that patients are more involved in their own care. Secondly, healthcare providers continuously monitor chronic patients, which means that symptoms are identified early. Being able to treat patients as soon as symptoms appear means saving lives for many chronic patients with serious conditions.
Telemedicine can improve care coordination that involves various providers, guaranteeing care continuity. This obvious benefit does not preclude assurance of the availability of on-site triage and expedient referrals when needed.
NCBI reports that chronic illnesses such as cancer, stroke, heart disease, pulmonary disease, diabetes and arthritis cause 70 percent of all deaths in the U.S. With so much at stake, the benefits of constant monitoring and quick action when symptoms arise equates to a significant healthcare success to all parties involved.
All indicators point to telemedicine as a way to reduce or control medical costs. This is particularly exciting based on the upward trend of costs that plague the medical industry. Telemedicine reduces hospital admissions, emergency room visits and length of hospital stays.
Specifically, the expenses of traveling to a doctor are eliminated with telemedicine. This benefit is irrefutable, particularly for people in remote areas. AJMC published Pew Research Center results that confirm this cost savings, reducing an in-person doctor’s visit costing an average of $176 to $40 or $50.
Like any new breakthrough idea or technology, telemedicine is not without its challenges. When it is time to pay, there can be some problems. Questions abound about how telemedicine services compare to traditional services offered. While 28 states have passed laws to deal with this problem, currently there is no way to enforce them.
Another practical telemedicine problem that worries advocates and naysayers alike relates to the higher likelihood of misdiagnosis. This problem is not limited to telemedicine, but is expected to be worse due to obvious logistical limitations. A misdiagnosis sets off a series of bad decisions such as the wrong treatment plan and prescriptions. This problem is a serious one and can lead to death or complications in patients suffering from a chronic illness.
Widespread implementation of telemedicine brings a whole different set of problems to the forefront. Some of the issues faced with setting up a practical and usable system involve legal and governmental input. When you combine those two groups with hospital management, it is easy to anticipate some of the difficulties ahead.
Considering the perfect storm brewing in the healthcare industry, new and affordable approaches to care are desperately needed. With a shortage of primary care providers predicted, rising costs and a growing older population, the traditional healthcare system is unable to keep up with the demand. As bleak as this scenario sounds, all is not lost. Based on a growing amount of evidence pointing to improved health outcomes and savings associated with telemedicine, the future looks bright for this new way of dispensing medical care.