Telemedicine is a healthcare service that facilitates patients remotely via video, voice, and SMS. Telemedicine is not a recent innovation. Many preferred remote consultations for follow-up appointments or minor health issues since voice, video, short message, and multimedia messaging services became possible.
SMS is still an effective medium to communicate medical prescriptions, healthcare promotional messages, doctors’ schedules, appointment confirmations, and other tasks suited for written descriptions. But telemedicine through advanced communication and connectivity platforms and media has further groomed and infiltrated people’s lives in recent years following the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.
Virtual connectivity was life-saving for many during the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthcare experts could assist, guide, and consult patients without physical contact with suspected cases. And patients could prevent exposure and contact with sick patients in hospitals and everywhere else.
In essence, factors like cost-effectiveness, feasibility, accessibility, flexibility, safety, and better outcomes allow telemedicine to contribute to people’s lives every passing day. And telemedicine is a feasible alternative to meet the healthcare demands of future generations. That’s why universities are offering courses in telehealth and telemedicine to foster digital awareness and prepare healthcare workers with the necessary skills to efficiently maneuver online platforms and features.
From nursing to public health, healthcare administration, and every other healthcare domain, teaching the cruciality of healthcare technology has become crucial. If you are a healthcare professional or student willing to pursue higher education, an online program can benefit your career. For instance, public health aspirants can enroll in online CEPH accredited MPH programs and remain updated on all healthcare advancements and trends.
The following sections further elaborate on the benefits of telemedicine from the perspective of patients and healthcare workers.
Significant Reduction In Healthcare Workload
Hospitals are always short on staff. Even if one goes for an appointment on time, they wait in the ques. A mere ten to fifteen minutes consultation session with an expert takes more than an hour, as the staff has to attend to all patients.
But healthcare workers can utilize automation features of digital platforms to minimize many preliminary steps through telemedicine services. For instance, there’s no need to register patients for consultations and engage workers in pre-work. An online appointment booking form minimizes the workload of front desk receptionists and expedites consultation.
Nurses have less burden in examination rooms if fewer patients come to a hospital. Likewise, Remote consultations allow patients to resolve their minor health issues without a face-to-face consultation session. As a result, doctors can accommodate more patients in their routine schedules.
Fewer Prerequisites for Healthcare Consultations
Telemedicine is a more feasible option to bypass the needless formalities of physical visits. Patients go through waiting, medical record crosschecking, vitals, and other formal or informal requirements before meeting a doctor. But many formalities render void in online consultations, such as a nurse cannot check your vitals, blood pressure, and temperature or perform other medical examinations. Thus, your doctor will see you at the designated time slot without delays and prerequisites.
Doctors have access to your previous medical record on their digital screens. So, they may continue with questions and answers to observe your symptoms and health complaints and suggest a face-to-face visit if you need a physical examination under expert supervision.
No Exposure To Harmful Pathogens
Even though hospitals primarily treat and rehabilitate the sick, one can also acquire health issues by visiting these facilities. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention estimates nearly 1.7 million admitted patients suffer from care-associated infections annually while receiving care services.
Poor hygiene practices, negligence, and contact with patients with respiratory illnesses can also expose visitors, attendants, and healthcare staff to harmful pathogens and jeopardize their health. But telemedicine can minimize these risks and chances of people-to-people contact, at least for patients who visit hospitals for routine checkups and consultations with a doctor. For instance, patients with psychological health issues can communicate with experts via video and voice call services.
Studies also show the clinical feasibility of voice and video for patients receiving consultation for speech and language therapy, diabetes, chronic pain, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, ophthalmology, kidney disease, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, postnatal care, and many others. Likewise, remote consultation prevents these patients from acquiring or spreading contagious viruses, bacteria, and germs.
Better Care Solution for Chronic Illnesses
Repeated checkups and consultations help manage chronic diseases and keep health on track. Routine visits allow your doctor to monitor progress, check vitals, prescribe medications, suggest blood tests, or monitor weight to manage symptoms. But one can manage their health without visiting a doctor physically.
Keeping up with your doctor and updating them about your condition does not require physical visits for every health issue. The follow-up for many non-communicable illnesses like diabetes, coronary heart disease, or hypertension does not require intensive medical procedures. For instance, a diabetic patient can update their doctor with regular feedback on their diet plan, sugar level, medication doses, symptoms, or workout routine via digital means.
Your doctor only needs to check your symptoms and progress. And you can share updates without booking a face-to-face appointment. Mobile applications help keep a systematic log of your progress which you can share with your doctor and get suggestions for diet or medication changes immediately. Thus, telemedicine is a better care and management solution for chronic illnesses.
Better Geriatric Care Aalternative
Geriatric nursing care has a significant portion of healthcare expenditure worldwide. Some estimates show hourly nursing charges of private caretakers range from £15 and £20. The annual burden of such services equates to £100,000 to £500,000 a year for patients with dementia. But dementia is not the only health issue in elderly individuals.
Aging induces many health complications that run in parallel. Diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart diseases, or digestive health issues have a systematic occurrence trend in the elderly. They are also prone to infectious ailments due to poor immune systems. So, they need round-the-clock medical assistance to stay healthy. But not everyone can avail themselves of such a luxury or hire expert healthcare professionals for nursing services. Telemedicine services serve as an affordable alternative for them. They do not need to book appointments, get hospital admissions, and travel to hospitals for routine follow-ups. Doctors can guide their family caretakers with relevant details and help them tend to their elderly with better nursing care.
Immediate Help for Emergency Medical Health Issues
Hospitals are among the workplaces that run on a 24-hour cycle. You will find a healthcare expert even if you visit a facility in the middle of the night. But even then, the opportunity window is so narrow that one cannot reach a hospital and succumbs to sudden health complications on the way or at home. It is most common in emergencies, such as accidents, cardiac arrest, childbirth, sudden respiratory attacks, losing consciousness, etc.
But telemedicine services can be life-saving in such cases. One can call a doctor and get expert advice to deal with emergencies on the spot. Doctors can guide and instruct how to perform life-saving and emergency care procedures to stabilize a patient before moving to a hospital. For instance, checking vitals, performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or bandaging injuries can minimize immediate dangers.
Telemedicine services bypass geographical barriers to reach patients and facilitate them with basic and specialized needs. It has proven to be an efficient alternative during the pandemic. The future healthcare industry holds even more relevance for remote consultations to cater to the increasing disease burden and the nursing services for the aging population. It also has the potential to foster public awareness and inclusivity and enhance preparedness for future healthcare crises.