The world is constantly evolving and the health sector is evolving along with it—the increased use of telehealth and telemedicine is expected to continue to grow as technology advances.
If you’d like to join the moving train, this article will help you get started.
The Rise of Telemedicine and Telehealth: Why It Transcends Beyond the Future into the Present
Telemedicine and telehealth have already been around since the 1950s but it was not until recent years that its use started to increase—It took the COVID-19 pandemic to propel it forward in a big way. Today, the use of virtual care has gone far beyond the need to increase access to healthcare services for patients in remote or underserved areas. It has expanded in usage, as patients and healthcare providers now use it in place of in-person visits.
Especially for healthcare facilities wanting to become telemedicine providers, the market cap is quite encouraging. In 2020, the global telemedicine market size was valued at USD 70.4 billion by Grand View and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19% from 2021 to 2030.¹ Although these figures are appealing, there is more. Many patients use the availability of virtual care as a factor in deciding whether or not to use a particular healthcare facility. According to a survey by Sage Growth Partner (SGP) and Black Book Market Research, 33% of respondents said they would leave their current physician for a provider who offered virtual care.²
Before the pandemic, you probably had no idea about the good telemedicine and telehealth could do for your healthcare facility. Or perhaps you did but didn’t think it was a real necessity. However, with the growing impact of virtual care, here are four reasons why you may want to include telemedicine and telehealth in your healthcare facility:
- Broaden patient base: Adoption of telemedicine and telehealth can enlarge the horizon of your healthcare facility beyond its four walls. You now break the distance barrier because telemedicine helps you reach your patients regardless of their location. Say goodbye to patients’ lateness or not showing up for their appointments, and hello to increasing your chances of retaining them—while still having ample time to accommodate more patients.
- A win-win situation for physicians and patients alike: Endorsing remote treatment programs, follow-up sessions, and consultations through video meetings are comfortable and convenient for both patients and physicians. For patients, telehealth “visits” can eliminate the need for travel expenses, and may also lead to lower co-pays or deductibles. For healthcare providers, telemedicine can help doctors save time by enabling them to see patients faster.
- Attracting and retaining patients: In an article in the American Journal of Managed Care published online by PubMed, more than 63% of patients interviewed said they prefer virtual video visits (VVVs) to conventional office visits.³ The adoption of telemedicine and telehealth is almost undebatable when it comes to attracting and retaining patients.
- Improved patient outcomes: Telehealth options can potentially lower the risk of infection and give care teams the chance to evaluate patients more thoroughly. It enhances communication and feedback between patients and physicians which creates more time for the patient to get adequate education on their treatment.
Telehealth Trends to Watch Out For
Here are some areas you may need to pay attention to if you want to make the most out of technology in health:
- Remote patient monitoring (RPM): RPM technology typically consists of a set of wearable or portable devices, such as sensors or monitors, that collect data on a patient’s vital signs, medication adherence, or other health indicators. The collected data is transmitted to healthcare providers in real time, allowing them to monitor patients’ conditions and intervene if necessary.
- Telehealth for preventive care: As the focus shifts from reactive to proactive healthcare, telehealth will play a significant role in preventive care. Patients will have access to virtual health coaching and personalized wellness programs, helping them stay healthy and avoid chronic diseases.
- Telemedicine and telehealth for specialized care: These two will expand their reach to specialized fields such as oncology and cardiology, where virtual care has the potential to enhance patient outcomes and reduce costs. Remote monitoring devices and teleconsultations will enable doctors to diagnose and treat patients remotely, while patients will be able to receive specialized care without having to travel.
- Telehealth platforms for patient engagement: As the importance of patient engagement becomes more apparent, telehealth platforms will integrate tools for patient education, remote monitoring, and symptom tracking. These platforms will encourage patients to be active participants in their care, leading to better outcomes.
- Telehealth for behavioral health: Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety became more prevalent during the pandemic, and telehealth has emerged as an effective tool for delivering behavioral health services. In 2023, telehealth will continue to be an important resource for mental health support, with increased emphasis on evidence-based practices
Your Guide to Establishing a Digitally-Enabled HealthCare Facility
Considering the value that can be enjoyed via the adoption of telemedicine and telehealth, there’s no better time to start than now. The following includes tips to help you get started:
1. Define the Purpose and Scope of Services
Before diving into the implementation process, it’s crucial to define the purpose and scope of digital care. This involves deciding the specific services to offer, the target audience, and the expected outcomes. Telemedicine and telehealth services range from virtual consultations to remote monitoring, and follow-up care, among others. By defining the purpose and scope, you can tailor your services to meet the needs of patients.
2. Research Telehealth Options, but Most Importantly, Choose Hipaa-Compliant Platforms
To provide telemedicine and telehealth services, you’ll need to have the appropriate technology in place, such as a secure video conferencing platform, electronic health records (EHRs), and a reliable internet connection. There are many telehealth platforms and vendors available, each with its features and pricing. Researching the different options and finding the one that best meets your needs is a good first step.
Some examples of HIPAA-compliant telehealth platforms include:
- Doxy. me
- Zoom for Healthcare
3. Ensure Regulatory Compliance
Telemedicine and telehealth are subject to various regulations and requirements, including privacy and security laws, licensure and credentialing rules, and reimbursement policies. Be sure to familiarize yourself with these regulations and ensure that your telemedicine and telehealth practices comply with them.
If you are licensed to practice in a particular state, you can usually provide telemedicine and telehealth services to patients located in that state. However, if you want to provide services to patients in another state, you may need to obtain a license to practice in that state or comply with the state’s telemedicine and telehealth regulations.
Some states have enacted legislation that allows healthcare providers to provide telehealth services to patients in other states, while others require healthcare providers to obtain a separate license to practice in their state. Additionally, some states may have different requirements for different types of healthcare providers, such as physicians.
Therefore, before providing telehealth services to patients in another state, it is important to research the laws and regulations in that state and ensure that you comply with all applicable rules and requirements.
4. Ensure That Staff Members Are Properly Trained and Comfortable with the Technology
Healthcare professionals must be proficient in using digital tools and platforms to deliver care effectively. They must understand the ethical and legal considerations of delivering virtual care and how to maintain patient privacy and data security. Patients must also be trained on how to use digital platforms to access care and understand the limitations and expectations of virtual care.
Getting into telemedicine and telehealth requires careful planning and execution. By following these actionable tips, healthcare facilities can successfully implement telemedicine and telehealth programs that improve patient outcomes, reduce costs, and expand access to care.
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- Grand View Research. “Telemedicine Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Component (Products, Services), By End User (Patients, Providers), By Application, By Modality, By Delivery Mode, By Facility, And By Segment Forecasts, 2022 – 2030”. https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/telemedicine-industry. Accessed March 9, 2023
- Sage Growth Partners. “Sage Growth Partners and Black Book Research Launch Survey to Assess Healthcare Consumer Sentiment During COVID-19 Crisis”. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/sage-growth-partners-and-black-book-research-launch-survey-to-assess-healthcare-consumer-sentiment-during-covid-19-crisis-301030738.html. Published March 27, 2022. Accessed March 9, 2023
- PubMed. “Patient and clinician experiences with telehealth for patient follow-up care”. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30667610/. Published January 2019. Accessed March 9, 2023