Telehealth- The future of Medicare
According to Wikipedia, Telehealth is the distribution of health-related services and information via electronic information and telecommunication technologies. Telehealth has multi-dimensional benefits as it allows patients to have long-distance clinical contact with doctors/nurses, to get advice, care, education, reminders, monitoring, interventions, and remote appointments.
Telehealth got a boost during the coronavirus pandemic when people were locked in homes and could not travel to get consultancy from doctors. The roots of this concept can be traced to America. With the smartphone era getting more and more advanced day-by-day, telemedicine is getting a harder push from the technology advancement.
During the weeks of early spring, when society was shut down, gadgets like tablets, laptops, and phones connected patients and doctors for consultations. However, with the reopening urbans, it has reduced; but, the numbers are still more than before. A new report from Frost & Sullivan suggests its uptake will increase by 64.3% nationwide this year, given the disruptions of COVID-19.
But in the years ahead, virtual care and remote monitoring should truly take off, according to the report. Frost & Sullivan forecasts a sevenfold growth in telehealth by 2025 – a five-year compound annual growth rate of 38.2%.
Telehealth paves a way in the advancement of AI
Telehealth also paves a way in the advancement of AI and robotics in making virtual healthcare more efficient. Permanently expanding access will involve striking a balance between costs and quality, we would also have to deal with privacy concerns and potential fraud, and figure out how telehealth can reach marginalized patients, including people who have mental health problems.
Some experts claim that the concept of telehealth can never replace in-person visits because some problems can be cured only when doctors examine the patients physically. During the pandemic, the telehealth has grown from its stage of infancy to a good grown-up age. With the coronavirus shutdown, more than 40% of healthcare services were provided online. Patients prefer telehealth for getting follow-up tips from doctors and feel comfortable in video conferences.
A recent poll of older adults by the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation found that more than 7 in 10 are interested in using telehealth for follow-ups with their doctor, and nearly 2 out of 3 feel comfortable with video conferences.
Visiting doctors is very risky amid Covid-19 pandemic.
With the increasing spread of COVID-19, visiting doctors is getting riskier day-by-day.
These days, telehealth is removing this hindrance and making healthcare safer for both, doctors and patients. It meets the crucial need for social distancing without compromising health.
Privacy has been a major concern in the path of telehealth. The above poll found that 27% of older adults who had not had a telemedicine visit were concerned about privacy, compared with 17% of those who tried it.
The majority of patients who tried telehealth claimed that the doctor could not examine them properly due to the absence of physical contact, and some said that the quality was not that good.
That is obvious because when a patient meets a doctor virtually, the doctor cannot give them vaccines online, the doctor cannot see the patient’s throat.
Patients who are sensitive towards COVID-19, like those with diabetes, have fear going to the doctors’ clinic and sitting in the waiting room for hours, where the risk of infections is high. Telehealth acts as a boon for such people where they can meet doctors for consultancy and get a continuous flow of medicines without facing the risk of getting infected.
The basic need to extract the benefit of this facility is technology. This restricts the service to the boundaries of urban areas. Rural residents still have to travel to the doctors’ place for help.
Rural residents still have to travel to the doctors’ place for help.
Telehealth should aim at bringing better outcomes and better patient experiences, at a lower cost. But, fraud is another big concern in this matter. Because telehealth has grown during the pandemic and expanded its roots, but, it is still in the experimental stages, we do not know what risks lie underneath.
Telehealth can be a good aid in treating mental health problems effectively where patients need consultancy from doctors. Most of the time, these can be cured with a good and friendly conversation that can happen online, without the need of meeting physically.
Telehealth “was an overnight sensation,” said Mark Fendrick, a health policy expert at the University of Michigan. “Hopefully it’s not a one-hit-wonder.”
Read more : Telemedicine: A subset of Telehealth