Since the start of technology being so mobile and active in our everyday lives, the American healthcare system has utilized it to enhance the patient experience. Mandy medical offices use tablets instead of clipboards and paper to check patients in, medical records are now kept in online databases instead of paper charts, patients check doctor’s websites for the hours and available services rather than making a phone call or stopping by. The use of technology in medicine started small, yes. But now we’re looking at an almost industry-wide embrace of technology for the safety of patients and staff! And this shift even has its own catchy name, telemedicine!
Chances are, you’ve heard the term telemedicine. Especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has become a very common term, describing the use of technology, phone calls, instant messaging, image sharing, or video calls to deliver medical consultation and care. It isn’t a tough concept to understand, but it’s changing the way we handle patient care.
Telemedicine is increasing the accessibility of physicians, specialists, and other healthcare professionals. Patients with disabilities, susceptible immune systems, or remote locations probably benefit the most from these technological advances, but in total, it seems to be improving the availability of care for all patients! Patients can now receive test results and imagery quicker than ever. The lab results or scans can be saved and sent via digital file and then interpreted by a medical physician over a phone call to the patient. Patient portals make medical records, bills, and past treatments accessible to patients 24/7.
One more recently popular addition to telemedicine is video conferencing between providers and patients. Patients who can’t make it into the office or hospital can video chat with their doctors, allowing them to feel more like they’re speaking face-to-face and allowing for more engagement than a phone call. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this feature has been very helpful for many physicians, healthcare providers, and especially for patients trying to limit exposure and risk. Patients who had tested positive for the virus were often asked to stay home and conduct their follow up appointments through telemedicine if they did not have to be hospitalized. Other patients who might have still been healthy, felt safer staying home than traveling to a doctors office where there might have been an opportunity for infection or exposure. Either way, providers offering telemedicine are helping mitigate risk.
Overall, we’ve found telemedicine to have a lot of positive changes, but in case you’re playing devil’s advocate, here’s a pros and cons list.
- Immobile patients, patients with disabilities and those with great distance from healthcare providers can receive care more easily.
- Patients can easily contact providers for emergent situations.
- Diagnosis and Treatment Plans can be carried out quicker.
- Providers can keep their patients and staff members safer by keeping contagious patients at home while they receive care.
- Enables patients to have rehabilitation and treatment in their own home.
- Patients enjoy their privacy at home and get care at their convenience.
- Smaller facilities and practices may not be able to keep up with technological advances even though they’re providing excellent care for their patients.
- Some patients may not feel comfortable using technology or may not have access to the necessary devices.
- Providers in some states may have issues billing insurances for telemedicine consults.
- Possible care delays, since life-saving care or laboratory tests, cannot be taken digitally.
If you or someone you know has participated in telemedicine, either as the patient or the provider, let us know. We’re interested in how things are turning out and how all parties are adjusting to this new phase in healthcare.
If you have questions about what services are available at Encompass HealthCare & Wound Medicine, you should contact our front desk or visit our website.