The history of medicine is the story of continuous improvement. Sure, there were stretches of time when medical science seemed to take a step backward – the European Dark Ages come to mind – the general trajectory is one of increased knowledge and advanced methods.
As we move deeper into the 21st century, healthcare keeps getting better. One of the greatest examples of how modern medicine is improving is the recent development of virtual telehealth systems. Also known as telemedicine, telehealth is likely to become the standard way for physicians and patients to interact.
While telehealth is not viable for all medical concerns, it’s an excellent way to streamline examination and diagnostic processes. It’s also a game changer in terms of providing greater quality care to people around the world.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at the seven benefits of telehealth:
Historically speaking, those who needed medical attention had two options: go to the doctor or have the doctor come to them. Unfortunately, that meant those who lived far from the nearest physician had a difficult time accessing the care they needed. Thanks to telemedicine, folks are now able to connect with healthcare providers without leaving their homes. Greater access means more people are able to get the medical attention they need.
Many people have work schedules that make it difficult to see a doctor during regular business hours. Thanks to telehealth, those with limited time to schedule doctor appointments can do so with a greater likelihood of success. That’s because a virtual visit can be done from practically anywhere so long as there’s an internet connection, meaning individuals can theoretically connect with their doctor during their lunch break or other brief stretches of time.
Telehealth is more affordable – both for physicians and their patients. For healthcare providers, virtual telehealth means less overhead and other costs associated with in-person visits. For patients, the savings come in the form of reduced travel expenses and minimal pressure to take time off work.
The concept of telehealth isn’t limited to video chat appointments. While virtual appointments are the main attraction, there’s also the potential for improved access to information and other useful resources. Patients can use telemedicine apps to check test results, see their medical information, and ultimately stay on top of their health in ways that were previously difficult, if not impossible. This leads to better engagement.
The greater the access, the more convenient the options, the cheaper the cost, the better the access to information, and the greater the engagement all add up to improved patient outcomes. Telehealth gives individuals more control over their health while helping physicians streamline the processes they rely on to help their patients. While telehealth remains relatively new, and thus not everybody is familiar with its use, telemedicine will eventually become the standard way in which doctors and patients interact, meaning it’s only a matter of time before everyone benefits from the rise of virtual medicine.
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From a provider point-of-view, the single greatest benefit of telehealth is the streamlined nature in which appointments can be booked, patients can be contacted, prescriptions can be filled, and questions can be answered. It all adds up to greater efficiency. As any business major can attest, the greater efficiency, the lower the cost of doing business. That’s a welcome trend that will benefit patients as much as it does physicians.
The COVID-19 pandemic serves as a reminder of the dangers of infectious disease. Between COVID-19 testing and tests for more common viruses like rhinovirus and influenza, it’s easy to see how a trip to the doctor’s office could mean exposing yourself to disease. On the flip side, going to the doctor’s office because you’re feeling sick is a potential risk to others. All this risk is mitigated with the use of telehealth systems since telemedicine reaches a level of social distancing that is impossible to replicate in a traditional setting.
Medical science and technology keep improving with each passing decade. Telehealth represents the latest in a series of developments aimed at making healthcare more accessible, affordable, and reliable to people around the world. It makes you wonder what sorts of medical marvels are on the way.