Telemedicine has been gaining a foothold for years, especially for those who do not live near clinics or hospitals. Like so many other things, the social distancing of the pandemic pushed telemedicine methods and improvements at an incredible rate. More and more people are choosing virtual appointments whenever possible, and digital medical records make it easy for patients to take their medical information from provider to provider.
Naturally, telemedicine is not appropriate for all medical appointments, but the decreased demands of resources on the physician’s part makes these patients more likely to demand prompt appointments and shorter wait times. Patients who use a combination of telehealth and in-person appointments across several healthcare providers or specialties also expect their information to be digitally available to them and their other doctors.
Here are some telemedicine facts that will give you new insights as to how you should handle in-person appointments.
The popularity of video and audio technology
Telemedicine has grown by such leaps and bounds that 76% of hospitals in the US use video and audio technology to connect with both patients and consulting physicians due to distance. There is a shortage of physicians and nurses in several parts of the country, making it necessary to hold virtual meetings and health appointments.
The ease of scheduling and receiving medical care improves patient outcomes
An astounding 71% of patients say that telehealth makes it easier for them to get the care they need. From scheduling (which 79% of patients prefer to do by phone or video) to receiving treatment, making healthcare convenient encourages active participation in their health. The ideal combination would be a virtual consultation followed by scheduling an in-person visit if needed.
When healthcare is easily accessible, provided in an efficient and timely manner, and convenient for the patient, they are more likely to be satisfied with their care. Meanwhile, long-term care management is improved with virtual records sprouting from telemedicine. These improvements make it easier than ever for patients to manage their care across providers, even if they are not within the same health system.
Improving timeliness of care
Simply by holding short virtual appointments for minor issues that don’t require a physical examination, doctors are able to provide care at a faster rate. According to the American Medical Association, 85% of physicians say telehealth appointments allows them to improve the timeliness of care for both virtual and in-person patients.
If lab work is necessary before another consult, this can be scheduled with the lab separately, allowing the follow up appointment to also be virtual. Those patients who do need an in-person appointment can also enjoy shorter wait times as the overall load of patients has been removed from most of the staff.
The new telemedicine dynamic makes it more important than ever for physicians to use compatible digital tools that work seamlessly with your patient’s other trackers and providers. The Freestyle Libre system has revolutionized how diabetes is managed, and other digital tools are making patient care more effective as well.
For example, the Eko DUO digital stethoscope allows healthcare providers to auscultate and monitor a patient’s heart rhythms via a small, wireless, portable pocket EKG device. Not only do these recordings translate into a HIPAA-compliant file that can become part of a patient’s digital health record, but they can later be shared with other members of the patient’s healthcare team for a more comprehensive overview of their condition. This also enables remote monitoring capabilities for telemedicine visits, allowing even cardiology patients to take advantage of this convenient new e-solution.