What Is Telehealth?

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A female healthcare provider offering telehealth services to patientsTelehealth enables healthcare providers to have virtual visits with patients through a phone call or video chat. This innovative technology also involves the transfer and exchange of medical information between sites. While telehealth is commonly grouped together with “telemedicine,” the two terms have distinct differences.

Telemedicine is typically remote treatment by a primary care provider or specialist. Telehealth encompasses mobile apps, patient education resources, and other tools designed to help patients become more in control of their own health. It also refers to the sharing of digital images used for diagnosis purposes, such as CT scans and X-rays. The latest telehealth software allows modern healthcare facilities to reach more patients in a fraction of the time and with less overhead.

What Are The Benefits Of Telehealth For Providers?

Approximately 76 percent of U.S. hospitals connect with patients remotely through the use of telehealth technology, according to the American Hospital Association. Telehealth has been found to improve patient outcomes and cut down on hospital readmissions. Managing patients with chronic conditions can be highly time-consuming, but telehealth software allows patients and providers to easily connect from any internet-enabled device. This has shown to be especially valuable for patients who reside in rural areas, do not have reliable transportation, or those with physical limitations that make it difficult to leave the home.

Telehealth has also been found to increase patient engagement and overall satisfaction. Visiting a doctor can cause anxiety in many patients. It also increases the risk of exposure to possible infections. Telehealth software allows providers to diagnose, treat, and monitor patients from the safety and comfort of their homes. Other digital tools, such as online booking and appointment reminders, help to cut down on the amount of work expected from hospital and clinic staff. Telehealth also reduces no-show appointments due to lack of transportation. Virtual visits are often more efficient and can lower operating costs, resulting in a greater level of care for patients.

What Are The Benefits Of Telehealth For Patients?

Patient benefits from telehealth servicesPatients can also enjoy a wide range of benefits from utilizing telehealth services over traditional face-to-face visits. When a patient visits a provider virtually, no transportation is needed, which saves time and money on parking, gas, and public transportation. Patients can also avoid taking time off of work as a virtual visit can be scheduled during a work break, at lunch, or after work hours. Adults with children at home or those who care for elderly parents can also avoid finding alternative care. Caregivers can undergo a virtual visit at home while still keeping an eye on their loved ones.

On-demand options have made it increasingly easy to fulfill many patients needs remotely. From writing prescriptions to monitoring chronic illnesses, patients can acquire the level of care that they are used to without being physically present in a doctor’s office. Patients who require the care of a specialist can also benefit from these services. Due to a general lack of specialists, many patients are forced to drive long distances to see a specialist, which can add up to a lot of time and money. Visiting a specialist remotely can ensure a quality consult while eliminating the chance of catching a new illness in a waiting room.

Telehealth Requirements

Healthcare providers that are considering offering telehealth services must ensure that they have the proper internal operations and IT infrastructure to support the software. While requirements can vary, most telehealth services require the following:

  • Bandwidth — Both providers and patients require a strong internet connection to achieve quality video streaming and voice connection. Ideally, internet speeds should exceed 15Mbps download and 5Mbps upload.
  • Billing — A telehealth system should seamlessly integrate with a facility’s existing EHR and billing systems to avoid lost appointments and misplaced invoices.
  • Cybersecurity — Telehealth services pose certain security risks due to the exchange of personal patient information. It is essential for all IT infrastructure security to be up-to-date and fully protected.
  • Documentation — The Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services requires providers to have a list of documentation before offering telehealth services. These typically include licensure, prescribing, malpractice, and HIPAA security documents.

Who Should Consider Using Telehealth Services?

Telehealth and healthcare conceptHealthcare facilities are continually on the lookout for the newest advancements in the health industry. Technological innovations like telehealth can significantly enhance the provider-patient relationship and ensure that more people are able to get the healthcare services that they need. Hospitals, clinics, and any other healthcare facilities that provide services directly to patients should consider investing in telehealth software.

Speak To An Experienced Consulting Firm

Telehealth is quickly becoming the norm in healthcare delivery in the United States as it increases access to quality care and can be successfully utilized by providers in all specialty areas. To learn more about telehealth services or for assistance choosing the best telehealth software for a health facility, reach out to the experienced telehealth consultants at Hartman Executive Advisors.

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