As the healthcare industry keeps evolving rapidly over the years, healthcare organizations are also changing to adapt to the global changes and deliver healthcare services to patients effectively.
Increasing advancement in information and communication technology and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic are some of the factors that have prompted this rapid shift in healthcare service delivery.
In response, digital medicine, also known as Telehealth, is a common trend that has widely encroached on the healthcare industry.
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth refers to offering health-related services and distributing health information through electronic platforms or telecommunication technology.
Through various telehealth platforms and devices, patients and physicians can stay in contact without physical meetings.
How Does Telehealth/Tele-Monitoring Work?
Telehealth services are famous for remote monitoring (also known as Tele-monitoring) of patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart diseases.
Clinicians use electronic devices to:-
- Remotely get progress reports from patients
- Deliver important health information
- Give prescriptions and medication reminders
- Offer health education and
- For remote billing.
Patients, on the other hand, use telehealth platforms and devices for consultations and to give reports on their recovery progress.
Impact of Telehealth on Healthcare Delivery
- It Saves Time, Money, and Energy
The use of telehealth in care delivery has spread due to its advantages of saving time, costs, and energy.
According to a survey conducted in 2018, 78% of consumers expressed their interest in using telehealth and virtual healthcare services. This is because of the ease of accessing health information through electronic devices at the comfort of their homes or offices without physically visiting the hospital.
Several states have also started enacting policies that require private insurance plans to cover telehealth services, just like in-office services.
2. Improved Quality of Care Delivery
Telehealth interventions have reportedly contributed to improved delivery of quality care to patients. This is evident in the high rate of patient satisfaction reported from the use of telehealth devices and applications to monitor their health.
Tele-monitoring also encourages patients to do regular self-monitoring and send prompt feedback to their physicians.
3. Reduced Workload
Due to reduced hospital visits, remote monitoring of patients reduces the workload for healthcare professionals, easing their schedules and consequently improving their productivity.
** Is Patient Information Safe?
Beneficial as it may be, telehealth also has a dark side.
One of the main concerns is the safety of patient information. Telehealth tends to compromise patient safety due to the vulnerability of information shared through the internet.
Just like any other site on the internet, patient portals are subject to hacking. Private patient information is likely to be accessed by unauthorized personnel who may use it for malicious purposes.
Role of Healthcare Professionals in Promoting Telehealth
Healthcare professionals play a critical in implementing and promoting the use of telehealth services. The roles they play include:
- Patient Education:
Healthcare professionals have the responsibility of educating patients on how to use the digital devices and applications involved. Since not all patients are technologically literate, they must be trained on how to operate the devices and how to use them to communicate with their physicians.
Proper patient education is essential for the successful implementation of telehealth and telemonitoring services in any healthcare organization.
2. Assessment and Evaluation:
Healthcare professionals also assess the various telehealth services for effectiveness in care delivery. This involves evaluating cost-effectiveness and its impact on care outcomes such as patient satisfaction, physician and nurse satisfaction, recovery rates, among others.
Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, Telehealth is among the interventions transforming healthcare for the good of both patients and healthcare professionals. By reducing hospital visits and physical appointments, telemonitoring makes the ‘new normal’ more bearable and convenient. The impact is highest among patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, who make frequent hospital visits for checkups, consultations, and medication.
Therefore, more healthcare organizations should consider embracing this wave to make their care delivery process more accommodating for such patients.