Sept. 5, 2018
Telehealth is a hot topic in healthcare, including optometry. It has the potential to significantly change how care is accessed. Here are four ways it may already be changing healthcare, according to reporting by Mandy Roth in HealthLeaders.
Creating Direct-to-Consumer Access
An estimated 12 percent of direct-to-consumer telehealth visits replaced visits to other providers, and 88 percent represented new utilization.
Net annual spending on acute respiratory illness increased by $45 per telehealth user.
Direct-to-consumer telehealth may increase access by making care more convenient for certain patients, but it may also increase utilization and healthcare spending.
Facilitating Ability for Self-Service
“While workflow solutions are now built into most telehealth apps, the next generation of products is beginning to emerge, with some incorporating artificial intelligence into the process,” writes Roth. “These apps not only guide patients through a series of questions and collect data, perhaps through a bot, but some can interpret those responses. By the time the patient connects with the provider, a tremendous amount of legwork is complete.”
Increasing Provider Collaboration
“Another area of growth for telemedicine is provider collaboration. This could enhance communication between nursing staff and physicians, as well as physician consultation with specialists,” Roth points out.
Roth notes that medical collaboration encompasses more than video; it also includes texting, phone calls and e-mail. The challenge, Roth writes, will be to present significant value beyond the texting capabilities providers have in hand on their own phone.
Less Transporting of Patients
Improving telehealth technology means a patient may not need to be moved to another location to receive additional care, Roth reports. That means medical facilities may need to be built with the capability to not only provide care on the spot, but to make telehealth communications about patient care a regular part of the services they provide.
“Equipping nursing homes and hospital rooms this way would enable a variety of practitioners to provide bedside care more conveniently—for the patient and the provider. Patients wouldn’t have to be transported, and practitioners could see more patients without disruption. In addition, the primary care provider, family and friends located elsewhere could link into the video consultations, enhancing communication between all parties involved in the patient’s care,” Roth writes.
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