As many doctors encourage patients in high-risk categories to avoid coming into the office for elective medical care due to COVID-19, telemedicine has come to the forefront as an alternative means of care. If you are unsure whether telemedicine and tele-assessment may be right for you, consider these five advantages of telehealth.
1. Avoids Exposure to Infectious Disease
Due to social distancing guidelines during the current coronavirus pandemic, this is probably one of the benefits of telehealth the public is most familiar with. Even under normal circumstances, there is a risk that sitting in a crowded waiting room with other patients who may have an infectious disease could result in illness. This concern has been heightened by the threat of coronavirus infection. Telehealth appointments allow patients to receive care and online assessment without having to physically come in contact with medical professionals or other patients, thus eliminating the risk of transmitting or acquiring an infectious disease in the doctor’s office.
2. Expands Access to Care
Many poor and rural areas have shortages of available doctors. Patients who live in these areas can avoid having to travel long distances to see a doctor by using telemedicine instead. Additionally, people can sometimes avoid long-distance travel to see a specialist by using telehealth instead of visiting in person. Telehealth also increases access to healthcare for the elderly and other patients who are unable to drive and people who do not own a vehicle and must arrange a ride or take public transportation.
3. Reduces Transportation Time and Expense
People sometimes avoid seeking medical care that they need, because they have a difficult time fitting it in their schedule or budget. Because telehealth can be conducted from almost anywhere, patients can save time and money by not having to drive to the office or arrange for public transportation.
4. Improves Quality of Care
Research has found that telemedicine results in better healthcare outcomes for many patients, particularly for patients in rural areas. Technology can be used to provide better care for acute conditions and to avoid unnecessary trips to the emergency room. Patients are also less likely to avoid seeking care because telemedicine is more convenient than traditional medicine. One study found that telehealth resulted in 38% fewer hospital admissions, 63% fewer days spent in the hospital, 31% fewer hospital re-admissions, and an increased level of engagement with healthcare.
5. Reduces the Need To Miss Work
Many patients find it difficult to get time off work to visit a doctor and not all services are available at clinics that stay open outside of normal business hours. Services, such as telehealth occupational therapy, can help working people receive the care that they need without having to take as much time off work. Many patients can schedule their appointments during a work break or before or after their shift.
Telehealth is becoming increasingly popular for many reasons. In addition to the need for social distancing during the global pandemic, telehealth offers advantages that can improve health outcomes, expand access, increase convenience, and lower healthcare costs.