Change is the only constant! Everything changes over time. Humans evolved gradually, so did our lifestyle. The healthcare field is no exception as it has had its share of changes. The one change that the healthcare field has gone through is Telemedicine. It has become a boon to humanity in these trying times of a global pandemic.
The term "Telemedicine" is an amalgamation of two words, "Tele" and "Mederi." The Greek word "tele" means "distance" and the Latin word "mederi" means "to heal." Thus, it means healing at a distance.
Telemedicine is described as the practice of providing medical help to patients remotely through telecommunication technologies, which means that patients and doctors need not share the same room to interact and start treatment. Furthermore, Telemedicine enables patients to consult any doctor; who might be in a different town or even country! It has made the in-person visit a thing of the past.
Telemedicine is also becoming a significant part of the American healthcare infrastructure. 41%–42% of U.S. adults were reported to have delayed or avoided seeking in-person care during the pandemic because of COVID-19 scares.
Before we see how Telemedicine works and the features of Telemedicine, let us see what problems are solved by Telemedicine.
Let us now see the problems solved by Telemedicine.
PROBLEMS SOLVED BY TELEMEDICINE
- It is unlikely that your patients live within walking distance from your hospital. They might have to travel a considerable distance to get themselves treated. It is even worse for those who live in rural areas. One of the features of Telemedicine is video conferencing. It allows you to diagnose and examine your patients without sharing the same room. It makes it possible to provide medical help to rural people who sometimes wait to schedule an appointment unless it is inevitable.
- To err is human. There is a great risk of mistakes when patients book appointments through a person. Telemedicine apps avoid this by removing the middleman. One of the features of Telemedicine allows online scheduling, which means patients can book an appointment by seeing the available dates from the in-app calendar. This feature frees the staff who can now focus on other important tasks.
- In 2018, 27.9 million nonelderly individuals did not have health care insurance. It is one of the reasons why people avoid going to the hospital as no insurance means expensive bills. Telemedicine allows you to offer your patients, especially those who don’t have insurance, virtual visits. This costs them cheaper, encouraging them to pay you soon.
- Patients might call you even after appointments. You can avoid such calls by moving such queries to the digital system. It allows you to charge them while keeping the bill inexpensive.
- There are times when patients cannot drive. Telemedicine allows you to treat them virtually. It means you can diagnose their condition, prescribe medicines, and follow up in a few days, all from the same virtual platform. Patients can get the quality care they require from the comfort of their beds. This feature of Telemedicine eliminates virus exposure for you, your staff, and everyone in your waiting room.
Let us now see how Telemedicine works.
How Telemedicine works
There are two methods to deploy Telemedicine.
Patient portals allow patients to interact with their healthcare providers. Patients can ask queries, schedule appointments, and get prescriptions refilled here. Patient portals also allow for the safe and secure storage of medical records.
The other form of Telemedicine is Virtual Appointments which is gaining popularity among people. Doctors and their patients communicate with one another through video conference or phone. It means that patients can now consult doctors while staying in the comforts of their houses.
Now that we have seen how Telemedicine works, let us dive into the benefits of Telemedicine for small businesses or self-employed people.
Benefits of Telemedicine
Telemedicine is flexible since it is accessible from anywhere through mobile devices and computers. It means that patients interact with nurses and healthcare providers through chat, video, and phone. These consultations are secure; that is, patients' privacy is maintained. Prescriptions are delivered and renewed quickly.
To maintain confidentiality, it is made sure that dialogue employs proprietary full-stack technology. It ensures that patients' personal information is kept safe and private.
The World Health Organization sees telehealth as a beneficial tool to provide workers in remote and rural areas with timely access to medical care.
Dialogue can have prescriptions sent to patients' preferred drug stores or delivered to their homes or workplace directly without disrupting their schedules. Such a provision encourages patients to seek medical help at any time they require it. Besides patients, it also empowers employees to manage their time better as the travel time is reduced for an in-person consultation.
It is known that healthy employees are more productive than peers with health issues. It means that now in every field of work, productivity is achieved since people no longer stay ill for many days. With Telemedicine, those who are ill reach out to doctors as and when they are taken ill.
Types of Telemedicine
Remote monitoring involves combining technology and devices. They, when combined, permit clinicians and medical professionals to monitor patient health remotely. To monitor patients remotely, doctors gather information from biosensors that patients wear. This collected information helps them suggest treatment plans and prescribe medication accurately.
These wearable devices that help doctors obtain information can range from a simple device (electronic scale) to a complex one in nature (implanted glucometer). There are numerous features and benefits of such Telemedicines. The main benefits are reduced costs and improved patient satisfaction.
Real-Time Interactive Services
Real-Time interactive services refer to Teleconsultation, which allows patients and physicians to communicate in real-time. It has made Telemedicine of utmost importance. Such consultations strictly comply with HIPAA rules. The ability to reach out for medical help saves patients time traveling to and from the doctor's office. Cisco research says that 74% of patients prefer using technology for consultations to in-person visits. It even takes care of patient privacy, unlike tools such as Skype, Zoom, Facetime, etc.
Numerous examples of teleconsultation usage are present, with Telenursing, Tele pharmacy, and Telerehabilitation being a few.
The Store-and-Forward type of Telemedicine revolves around the interaction of two healthcare providers who are not in the same place. It is also known as "asynchronous telemedicine." Healthcare providers use this to share lab reports, videos, patient records, and other patient information. It has made discussing easier for doctors. Again, patient security and confidentiality are maintained.
How Telemedicine Benefits Providers
Telemedicine helps healthcare institutions improve their revenue. It is possible as telemedicine enables healthcare institutions to provide personalized treatment options. Routine operations like sending reminders and ensuring fewer missed appointments are automated, helping drive an improved patient communication plan. Increased revenue enables healthcare organizations to provide more services by hiring specialists from different locations to cover various needs and even provide additional services such as 24/7 support for patients located anywhere in the world.
Healthcare systems, physician practices, and nursing facilities treat patients more efficiently by utilizing telemedicine solutions. Now that technologies and telemedicine software are combined, better patient outcomes have become a reality.
Essential features of telemedicine apps
Here is a list of things that every telemedicine app should include.
Easy Patient Registration
Patients like fast and quick registration. Therefore, there should be a provision for uploading necessary medical records quickly and easily.
This has patients’ up-to-date medical details, chief complaints, insurance information, and many more things. All these things help healthcare professionals make a necessary treatment plan. Doctors can see the details as and when they want to.
This includes many important details such as doctors’ addresses, qualifications, area of specialization, experience, availability schedule, and allocation and management of healthcare professionals. It enables patients to select a doctor they deem competent enough to quickly understand their problem.
It helps patients to remember their appointments and minimize missing their appointments. Doctors can use this to go through their patients’ profiles and see who needs to be attended to first.
At least 30% of respondents to the McKinsey & Company research said they’d opt for telehealth solutions offering features to get enrolled in online/video counseling sessions and in-app chat with a doctor. Thus, it is necessary to integrate these things into telemedicine apps. App integration and cloud solutions used by telemedicine app development companies make real-time communication and remote patient diagnosis a reality.
The telehealth app, integrated with EHR, ensures streamlined patient record processing and consolidation. It prevents duplication of data from virtual visits. Since duplication of data is avoided, it makes sure that chaos does not ensue.
The telemedicine app can locate pharmacies near the patient, provide directions, and predict the estimated time to reach the hospital in emergency cases. It makes it easier for patients to know where they should go in times of distress. For this, all it needs is patients’ location.
E- prescription has a complete list of medications with dosage instructions which leads to reduced pharmacy and prescription errors. It ensures patients’ safety, and they can even get their prescriptions renewed easily and quickly.
Patients love when they can pay medical bills from their smartphones which is a hassle-free way of paying for medical care. It proves to be of massive help since people could forget to carry money in times of distress. Thus it becomes one of the features of telemedicine apps that can’t be forgotten.
The patient’s freedom to rank and evaluate their physicians is another one of the essential features of telemedicine apps. It also helps many new patients to find the specialist doctor best suited for their preferences by checking how much their fellow patients have ranked the doctors on the catalog. The scaling features’ design should be so that only the patient who receives the treatment can rate the doctor to benefit new patients.
Telemedicine is here to stay and with technological advancements, it is only going to get better.
If you are interested in getting a telemedicine app built, feel free to contact AppsRhino. AppsRhino is known to cater to their client's needs well and has made numerous apps so far.