Televisits, remote patient monitoring, and other virtual care solutions have been around for some time, offering quality care to patients around the world. With the spread of COVID-19 over the past several months, telehealth solutions have skyrocketed, bringing about a telehealth revolution. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what telehealth is and what it has to offer, what problems telehealth solutions can solve, and explore whether telehealth can replace most physical doctor visits.
Telehealth solutions have long been used to replace actual physician visits. However, telehealth is not limited to just patient-physician communication. Let’s take a look at some other areas of patient care in which virtual care can be applied and has already proven to be effective.
There are hospitals that now bring telehealth stations into patient rooms to allow a remote specialist, from another hospital, or perhaps even another city or state, to examine a patient through a telehealth system. Specialists from all over the world have the ability to treat patients anywhere a telehealth platform exists. Telehealth is not just about connecting patients and doctors, it is also about connecting doctors to doctors.
Mental Health and Wellness Remote Solutions
The pandemic has affected not only physical health but mental health as well. The long lockdown period, inability to travel or communicate with friends and family, financial instability — all of these factors have led to increased depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and other mental health issues. To address those problems, many companies have begun to offer mental health, fitness and lifestyle apps, as well as platforms for a patient to interact with a psychiatrist or psychologist.
Virtual Clinical Trials
Due to the pandemic, clinical trials have become difficult or impossible to carry out. Many trials were halted because subjects could not report personally to the trial site. Televisits provided a solution for pharma companies and CROs, allowing them to continue running trials. In the future, we envision a hybrid solution in which a doctor and a patient meet occasionally but most observation and monitoring is carried out remotely. To learn more about decentralized clinical trials, listen to an interview with Dan Piekarz, SVP, Leader of Healthcare & Life Sciences Practice.
These are just a few ways in which telehealth solutions can be applied. The trend will only grow in the future. Let’s look at why?
Telehealth solutions such as remote patient monitoring, virtual clinical trials and televisits reduce the risk of infectious diseases such as COVID-19 or influenza, which is critical during a pandemic. In the event of a future pandemic, virtual care solutions can be implemented much more quickly, minimizing contact between the patient, the doctor, and other patients.
Patient care can improve and become more available for underserved areas by connecting a patient or their doctor with a specialist from a different location. This extends the scope of an individual doctor to provide for patient care.
Cost per visit can be reduced both for patients and insurance companies. Telehealth provides an opportunity to save physicians time by letting the assistant assess the patient before transferring the call to a doctor. To learn more about a Telehealth AI Assistant, click here.
Will Telehealth Replace Doctor Visits?
This is a question that elicits broad concern. Many argue that telehealth solutions preclude building the trust that is essential in doctor-patient communication. But, as telehealth unfolds with time, healthcare will change. A patient will visit a physician personally and build the trust that people are looking for. But the next meeting may be over a zoom conference. In the future, patients and their physicians will determine what type of appointment is appropriate when the appointment is made. The personal contact necessary to build trust will remain.