2020 has been a trying year for healthcare, to say the least. Significant adjustments have been made to the delivery of healthcare, with effects that will reverberate throughout the coming years.
One of the biggest changes has been a dramatic rise in the use of telehealth services to provide healthcare.
This trend in the increasing reliance on telehealth technology to serve patients is largely due to the limitation of in-person visits to emergencies to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Let’s explore telehealth and how it is changing healthcare.
What Is Telehealth?
The term “telehealth” is short for “telecommunications healthcare,” and essentially refers to the use of technology to consult with patients.
Telehealth has existed since widespread internet access became commonplace, but the technology involved in the delivery of telehealth has improved dramatically. And, if the trend holds, it will further improve over time.
What Are the Advantages of Telehealth?
Telehealth has many advantages over traditional healthcare.
First, it breaks down the physical barriers to care, such as the need to travel to the clinic or hospital. Many people, especially the economically disadvantaged, the elderly, and rural populations, are vulnerable to the challenges posed by having to find reliable transportation to and from the point of care.
Telehealth eliminates the need for physical travel.
Secondly, telehealth is much more cost-effective than traditional care. Many of the expenses incurred by a busy doctor’s clinic are reduced or totally eliminated through the use of telehealth technology.
Lastly, telehealth prevents the spread of contagious diseases like COVI-19. In spite of the best efforts of staff to maintain hygienic conditions in their facilities, clinics and hospitals are often vectors of viral infections simply due to their role in treating sick patients.
Examples of Telehealth in Practice
The adaptations of telehealth technology are numerous. They can take the form of healthcare apps, for example, that measure data like heart rate and blood pressure automatically from a wristband or other recording device, compile the information, and send it to the healthcare provider.
Other examples of telehealth include digital consultations with patients and online health support groups.
Telehealth is an exciting new utilization of technology that has the potential to permanently transform the delivery of healthcare for the better as we move into the future.