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What Research Says About Telehealth

Telehealth is a relatively new technology that is taking over the health care industry, and it has become much more important now that there is an ongoing pandemic and the majority of people – health worker included – are stuck in their homes.

While many people are supportive of telehealth and are familiar with the impact of this new model of health care, not a lot are actually familiar with the figures that support their opinions. However, there are a lot of data about telehealth has already been gathered over the years, and these are widely available online.

This article discusses the impact of telehealth in the industry with figures that support the argument. These hard facts help prove how telehealth can and has impacted the health care industry around the world.

Improvement of Health Care Quality

There is much information that proves that telehealth is capable of improving the quality of health among patients. Telehealth is capable of proving remote consultation capabilities which allow for stricter monitoring of those with medical conditions.

A study published in the American Journal of Managed Care, for example, had 200 patients with cardiovascular conditions monitored through telehealth sessions. After six months, results showed significantly lower admissions and readmissions when compared to those that did not use telehealth.

The California Telehealth Research Institute also had a similar study. Their results showed that recovery rates from strokes with telehealth support are at 85% compared to 15% through traditional means. They have also seen decreases in mortality rates of up to 30% through telehealth systems.

These data show that there is a significant positive impact on patients’ health whenever telehealth is used. This is due to the consistent monitoring that they can provide patients, especially those with chronic conditions, as they can be checked up as often as they want as well as being able to access a doctor under urgent circumstances.

Availability of Telehealth

A combination of hardware and software assets, as well as an Internet connection, are all that is required in order to facilitate telehealth services. For patients, requirements to access telehealth are much less. Current data shows that we are very much capable of accessing this system if we desire so.

Fifty-nine percent of the entire world’s population has access to the Internet. A vast majority of those numbers belong to countries who have existing telehealth technologies. On the other hand, over 2.5 billion people have smartphones, devices that can easily access telehealth as well.

Many hospitals, as well as private companies, have started investing in research, development, and implementation of telehealth. In many countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States, for example, investments have reached billions of dollars, with these figures increasing with each passing year.

Figures sourced from the American Health Association indicate that, in 2017, 76% of all hospitals have one at least one form of telehealth system being used. This is a big difference compared to just 7 years ago when hospitals using telehealth are just at 35%. This trend, albeit with different figures, can be seen in other countries as well.

Due to being able to reach a wider number of patients as well as covering numerous fields in healthcare, the number of users has jumped, proving that there are many ways that patients can access telehealth. In fact, a report from Modern Telecare indicated a jump of 53% in telehealth usage from 2016 to 2017.

Huge Savings

Between 2006 and 2009, which was during telehealth’s infancy. Medicare has saved over 670 million U.S. dollars due to telehealth. A majority of these savings are due to fewer readmissions as virtual checkups have become the norm for patients at that time.

The Mississippi Diabetes Telehealth Network, on the other hand, enjoyed over 300,000 dollars in savings a year during a study involving 100 diabetes patients. This translates to almost 30,000 dollars in savings per patient in the span of a year. During this time, no hospitalizations were also reported.

Savings due to telehealth will vary, although sources of savings are quite diverse. These include:

  • Direct costs
  • Professional fees
  • Fuel/Travel costs
  • Lost wages
  • Family-related Expenses
  • Cost of time due to travel and waiting

Actual savings per visit side by side with traditional channels of health care will vary from situation to situation. However, averages may range from between 19 to 121 dollars, according to Health Leaders. This is a very big chunk of money especially for those who are required multiple visits.

However, it is not only the patients who enjoy huge savings. Hospitals can drastically cut down on expenses as well. According to Towers Watson, a multinational insurance company, savings in the United States alone can reach up to 6 billion dollars annually.

These figures are especially important for countries such as Australia, where a majority of health services are covered by government health care program Medicare. Lowered overall costs will translate to lower budget requirements which can be used for other national matters.

Support Behind Telehealth

There has been increasing support in the use of telehealth all over the world, especially in light of the recent COVID 19 pandemic. Countries such as Australia, who had provided limited access to telehealth services to its residents in the past, have recently been much more lenient with regards to their policies.

In the United States, almost all states have laws and policies regarding telehealth, although only eight states have full coverage. On the other hand, twenty-nine states have allowed medical professionals to practice via telehealth across state lines. Twenty-nine states also require health insurance companies to cover for telehealth-related expenses.

Other figures gathered by eVisit state that 84% of health care executives strongly support telehealth, 74% of patients are highly receptive to telehealth, and only 16% of patients will prefer to go to the hospital than consult remotely for minor medical conditions.

These figures show the increasing support for this new technology. As we go through the recent pandemic and telehealth has been rapidly showing its worth, we can expect bigger support in the favour of telehealth from all relevant stakeholders.

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