Since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, several technological advancements have been made to cope with the transformation in the many aspects of our daily life. One of these advancements is the introduction of Telehealth in the Healthcare industry. Due to several disruptions in the provision of healthcare services amidst the pandemic, Telehealth has been utilized to address the problem of delivering health care to those in need, and it showed a lot of potential in revolutionizing access to health care.
According to a SingleCare telehealth survey, most of the respondents reported being satisfied with their access to Telehealth services, with 46 percent of the respondents being extremely satisfied, 36 percent were somewhat satisfied, while 16 percent reported that they are neutral about their experience with Telehealth.
In terms of satisfaction from the practitioners’ point of view, 60 percent found Telehealth easy to use, 50 percent reported that their satisfaction with their work improved, and 68 percent reported that they want to continue or increase the use of Telehealth in their practice. The statistics show that the utilization of Telehealth is becoming more accepted both by patients and healthcare professionals. This article will talk about the importance of Telehealth in Healthcare, the trends surrounding Telehealth, and the challenges that come with it.
Telehealth combines technology and healthcare to provide easy access to health services remotely. Through it, access to health care services, health information, and health education became easier. The virtual means of providing health care have significantly advanced from its primary concept of improving patient access to care and physician collaboration to incorporating new data and communication possibilities such as patient portal access, phone consultations, easy access to health records, and so much more.
The continuous adoption of Telehealth solutions is greatly influenced by convenience and accessibility. Safety also comes with these advantages, which were highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. But although the pandemic kickstarted the increased adoption of virtual healthcare, its concept isn’t entirely new to the healthcare industry.
According to SingleCare, similar trends to Telehealth have emerged even before the pandemic, and most patients are unfamiliar with it. The following is some evidence of the trends of remote healthcare before the pandemic:
Countries from all over the world began transitioning into virtual options of delivering healthcare since the COVID-19 pandemic and have since then continued to become even more prevalent. Given the current support for improving healthcare provision, meeting consumer demands, and minimizing costs, Telehealth is expected to become more widely accepted and developed.
According to McKinsey’s analysis of the progress of Telehealth adoption after COVID-19, the following facts are identified:
The temporary shift to virtual healthcare paved the way for permanent implications that are valuable to expanding healthcare. Since the prevalence of Telehealth has become more evident, it is important to know what drives the adoption of Telehealth in healthcare and how it will forever change its landscape for the better.
Several sources state that Telehealth could further improve the healthcare industry for a variety of reasons, including:
Telehealth will continue to lay the foundations for easily accessible and effective healthcare services in the future. Additionally, virtual healthcare will be strengthened with new information, tools, and applications that will enhance the overall outcomes of the services provided through Telehealth.
According to Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), some potential advancements that may be reinforced with Telehealth are:
Despite difficulties caused by a lack of personnel resources, ongoing AI developments will improve treatment insight and provide care for more patients. Although AI technology receives the majority of the emphasis in healthcare innovation, the role of the human dimension in merging health IT and care delivery should not be understated. It should be highlighted that, in reality, it is augmented intelligence rather than calling it artificial intelligence. Investing in augmented information is a crucial first step in upgrading and completing existing medical procedures.
The pandemic’s rapid adoption of telemedicine to treat patients who couldn’t see their doctors in person has shown that this is not just a practical but frequently the preferred choice. As a result, hospitals are exploring new strategies to expand patient participation in healthcare in their homes. The emergence of technological platforms and a wide range of interconnected devices will make them a permanent part of houses.
These options provide a practical way to decrease some expenses frequently connected with hospital stays while enhancing patient satisfaction and convenience. Home-based care also offers the benefit of limiting clinical staff contact with infected patients.
In the upcoming years, the development of devices, wearables, and the internet of things will also have an effect. Some of the first in-home gadgets to approach ubiquity are wearables, including smartwatches, fitness trackers, biosensors, ECGs, and blood pressure monitors. Technologies used remotely to continuously test and monitor patient vitals help providers better understand patient risk factors. Clinicians can intervene sooner to avert negative or devastating results by proactively alerting care providers to warning indicators and providing patients with the appropriate care at the appropriate time. These interactive tools can help patients make better decisions about their health in the present.
Although wearables, home-based health care, and artificial intelligence have all had varying success in specific use cases, their true strength and advantage will come from integrating them into expansive networks. This is the perfect time for providers to maximize these technologies and prepare for expansion.
Future care facilities will integrate video-enabled care to increase staff and patient safety, boost operational effectiveness, and lessen healthcare inequities. The virtual care revolution has just begun, and by utilizing two-way video, wearables, and augmented information; we can enhance health outcomes, patient experiences, and our level of preparedness for any upcoming challenges.
Despite the continuous efforts to innovate and enhance Telehealth services, there are remaining challenges to address to maximize virtual care’s full potential. These challenges include the necessity for improved data automation and flow for various stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem due to the rapid expansion of information that overwhelms the users.
For healthcare communities and hospitals that do not have the capacity to offer various virtual health services, knowing where to start and how to expand in the future is important. Since adapting to new practices takes time, there is also a need to develop a better plan for embedding virtual medical-related tasks into physicians’ daily workflows to become more familiar with the new setting and support hybrid health care models that combine online and personal patient care.
Lastly, to overcome the concern for reimbursement, especially for Telehealth services that seek to lower healthcare costs, it is crucial to align the benefits of virtual healthcare procedures to providing quality care at affordable costs.
The pandemic drove the wide adoption of Telehealth in the healthcare industry to address the disruptions in the provision of health services. However, Telehealth’s impacts will continue to unfold beyond the pandemic and permanently revolutionize how healthcare services are provided and accessed. Although certain regulations and reimbursement procedures for Telehealth hinder the healthcare industry from being fully immersed in virtual healthcare, it is still important to push through and find ways to continue the innovation and utilization of Telehealth services.
Telehealth is beneficial in many ways, including increased access to care, improved productivity for health professionals, and an opportunity to successfully establish appropriate services that cater to special populations’ needs. Through further technological advancements, Telehealth will continue to present opportunities to minimize costs and improve the quality of care. Hence, Telehealth is important to healthcare and its future through its wide array of possibilities.