There is almost nothing that cannot be improved by technology. Automation has resulted in quick processing, archiving, and retrieval of data, as well as reduced cost and manpower requirements, among other benefits.
In the health industry, telehealth is also one of the more popular buzz words when it comes to technology as it provides several advantages for doctors and patients alike.
There are several facets of telehealth which aim to solve or improve upon the different issues that the medical industry faces. The purpose of this article is to discuss what telehealth is all about, what it can do for you.
This article aims to provide the reader with information that will benefit them so that they can use telehealth to their advantage if and when it is needed.
Telehealth in a Nutshell
Telehealth is a technological model where in a combination of hardware and software work together towards creating services that simulate health care without physical interaction.
This can be implemented through the use of various technologies that automate processes that would otherwise require additional manpower or resources, such as travel time.
Diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring are also processes that are heavily influenced by telehealth allowing for reduced turnaround times for all concerned.
Telehealth benefits different proponents of the medical industry, primarily:
- Primary care doctors
- Diagnostics clinics
However, it is the patients that ultimately benefit from telehealth especially they no longer need to travel, queue, and pretty much wait at a hospital or clinic for their doctor’s visit or exam. Of course, there are certain limitations to telehealth as of the moment, but the technology is quickly catching up to provide convenience, effectiveness, as well as savings to all concerned.
Functions of Telehealth
Listed below are the main components of telehealth. Current technologies have allowed for these functions to be possible and very stable. Of course, these are by no means everything that telehealth can do as technology is constantly evolving to cover more ground in the medical industry. Rather, the ones mentioned below are the ones that are currently most prevalent.
Through kiosks, websites, and mobile apps, patients and hospitals can easily interact and store, process, and retrieve data in an instant. Patient records, treatment information, and test results can be seen instantly and can be easily accessed by anyone that needs them. Requesting prescriptions and scheduling appointments can also be done online, among other tasks.
Just like computer systems have made information gathering centralized, so has telehealth made data more accessible than ever before. Speed of input and other processes have sped up dramatically, reducing time, manpower, and expenses for all concerned.
Before telehealth, a patient may need to visit a hospital to get tested and then go back after a couple of days to get the results. This would then need to be hand carried to the doctor for analysis.
Otherwise, the patient may need to wait several hours for a specialist to take a look at you, which would just take a few minutes. For a sick person, this is definitely not a very convenient experience.
However, store and forward technologies have allowed for medical data to be transferred electronically to a specialist, and in some cases the patient need not even leave their own home.
In some cases, a patient needs only to go to a clinic to be tested, and results will be sent to specialist, with the doctor capable of accurately analyzing the data. Minor diagnosis such as for moles or eye problems are even simpler, as cameras or apps exist that will allow you to take a picture, and the doctor can then work from that.
This is perhaps one of the best functions of telehealth that benefit patients and doctors alike. The ability to talk to a patient or doctor benefits both parties as overheads are severely reduced.
A doctor can see a patient anywhere they are, and they can also do so at any time that they prefer. For emergency services, they can also accommodate patients wherever they may be. Patients, on the other hand, can consult with a specialist without the need for travel which can be considered as huge wastes of time and money.
Video conferencing can be done in a variety of ways. Remote meeting applications such as Zoom make communication between two or more people very easy to accomplish. Some online portals even integrate this into their system for even better ease of use.
A high definition camera and good audio are more than enough to get diagnosed or treated for simple to intermediate conditions. Research has shown that incidences of no-shows are drastically reduced, as well if consultations are done in a remote setting.
Remote Monitoring and Apps
Hardware has evolved in such a way that it allows data from your body to be synchronized easily into systems that require them.
Data such as heart rates and blood sugar levels can be constantly monitored, and alarms can even be set should readings that require immediate treatment occur.
Likewise, pedometers in the form of wearable devices or apps can measure steps are provide you with reports of your progress.
Other apps will allow you to review calorie counts, water intake, and sleep quality. All of these data can be utilized for monitoring your health by a physician or even by yourself.
While telehealth provides several benefits, it is not without its flaws. While telehealth improves upon several aspects of the medical industry, several areas are still being left behind.
Some are impossible to become remote as well, unless sudden and large impact breakthroughs in technology becomes available.
There are also some issues with regards to adoption, especially among the elderly, and some health insurers are slow to address this rising trend in health care when it comes to coverage.
Nevertheless, telehealth surely provides some great benefits that translate to accuracy, convenience, and savings. Telehealth is a model that helps the world work towards the goal of making health services more accessible and affordable to society as a whole.