- Technology has been changing healthcare delivery for many years, especially after ongoing reforms have brought forth the adoption of EHR systems, electronic prescribing software, virtual doctor visits, and remote monitoring tools. Telemedicine services along with mobile health apps have brought more benefits for patient care as well as the potential to reduce medical costs across the board.
At the US News Hospital of Tomorrow conference that took place in Washington D.C. between October 18 and 20, a panel of experts explained that telemedicine services will need to become a key component of patient care in the coming years, according to the US News & World Report.
The panelists mentioned all of the advantages that telemedicine services can bring to consumers around the country. For instance, telehealth technology can help reduce hospital readmission rates and provide life-saving diagnoses and treatments in a timely manner.
“Remote home monitoring is already with us in eye disease, and it's going to be increasingly important,” Dr. Julia Haller, Ophthalmologist in Chief at Wills Eye Hospital, stated at the conference.
Also, telemedicine services have the potential to reduce medical costs while improving care and patient engagement in more rural locations. Instead of patients having to drive long distances to meet with a specialist or primary care provider, patients will have greater access to care through virtual visits.
This could also cut emergency room visits by allowing physicians to prescribe medication virtually and enabling patients to communicate with their doctors at any time of day. Telehealth could reduce the need for emergency care among a wide set of patients including the elderly, children, or young adults.
For instance, a college student with an earache and located a state away from their primary care doctor could speak with a physician through videoconferencing technology instead of spending time and resources in an emergency room.
Additionally, more physicians are now interested in incorporating mobile devices in their medical practice. Some survey results have shown that 67 percent of patients throughout the country are willing to integrate mobile devices with their treatment plan.
The telehealth space is also growing in popularity. The company Teladoc, the largest provider of telemedicine platforms, announced in a press release this week that it has completed its one millionth telehealth visit.
“Hitting our 1 millionth visit underscores the growing adoption and utilization of telehealth services across the country,” Jason Gorevic, Teladoc Chief Executive Officer, said in a public statement. “This Teladoc milestone is evidence of the value we deliver and the confidence our employers, members, physicians and hospital systems have in our ability to provide quality health care where and when people need it most.”
Dr. Adam Darkins, Vice President of Medical Affairs and Enterprise Technology Development for the Americas Region of Medtronic, explained during the conference that telemedicine services will be changing the future of healthcare and the hospital of tomorrow.
Dr. Andrew Watson, Vice President of International, and Medical Director of Telemedicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said at the panel that telemedicine services improve patient engagement and communication channels between doctors and their patients. Another major value from telehealth technology is the reduced costs of care due to decreased hospital readmission rates and emergency department visits.
“We view patient portals as an absolutely critical way to reach out to consumers,” Watson stated. “It’s bringing healthcare back to the patients, back to its roots.”
“As the nation continues to face growing healthcare challenges, employers, providers and patients are seeking innovative solutions to mounting healthcare costs and challenges accessing timely care,” Krista Drobac of the Alliance for Connected Care stated in a company press release. “Teladoc's one millionth telehealth visit represents a milestone for the growth in patient access to this important technology.”