This year has pressed us all to our limits with highs and lows. In our industry, innovation is booming as we all rush to navigate the pandemic while best serving customers and patients. With that innovation boom came leaps and bounds in telehealth. Routine healthcare looks far different in the light of a global pandemic. With increased restrictions and distancing, many are using technology to bridge the distance between provider and patient. With services like telehealth, we are transforming the traditional way we view healthcare as a society and bringing physicians to living rooms across the country. Telehealth tools range and are available for almost all niches of healthcare.
What is telehealth?
Telehealth is the use of digital information and communication technology devices like computers, tablets, and mobile devices, to access healthcare services remotely while managing your healthcare. Telehealth allows you to see your family practitioner or your therapist from the comfort of your own home through video communications. Telehealth looks different for every niche of healthcare so let’s breakdown how telehealth can be used in the hands of a diabetic! Here are a handful of ways Mayo Clinic says a diabetic could benefit from telehealth services:
- Use a mobile phone or other devices to upload food logs, medications, dosing, and blood sugar levels for review by a nurse who responds electronically.
- Watch a video on carbohydrate counting and download an app for it to your phone like MyFitnessPal.
- Use an app to estimate, based on your diet and exercise level, how much insulin you need.
- Use an online patient portal to see your test results, schedule appointments, request prescription refills, or email your doctor.
- Order testing supplies and medications online.
- Get a mobile retinal photo screening at your doctor’s office rather than scheduling an appointment with a specialist.
- Get email, text, or phone reminders when you need a flu shot, foot exam, or other preventive care.
The goal of telehealth can be different for every user and every physician but the overall goal remains the same to connect the patient with the provider. Within that overall goal, telehealth gives individuals living in rural areas access to health care, it makes services more readily available for individuals with limited mobility, time, or transportation, it provides access to medical specialists, it improves communication and coordination of care among a team of healthcare workers, and it provides support for self-management of health care.
The following are a handful of great examples of telehealth that can benefit every individual from the patient to the administrator, to the physician:
Patient Portal: An online portal used by care clinics across the county to allow patients an alternative to email communication while providing access to visit summaries and appointment scheduling.
Virtual Appointments: In light of the pandemic, virtual appointments are becoming more commonly used and favored in many sectors of the healthcare industry. These appointments allow doctors to use online videoconferencing to connect patients to their doctors and nurses without visiting the office. While very convenient, virtual appointments also have their drawbacks:
- Treatment may not be coordinated with your regular doctor.
- Essential information from your medical history may not be considered.
- The computer-driven decision-making model may not be optimal if you have a complex medical history.
- The virtual visit lacks an in-person evaluation, which may hamper accurate diagnosis.
- The service doesn’t easily allow for shared doctor-patient decision-making about treatments or making a plan B if an initial treatment doesn’t work.
Remote Monitoring: Using web-based technologies and apps, doctors can use a variety of technologies to monitor your health remotly. This can include blood glucose readings, blood preasure monitoring devises, or home monitoring systems for individuals with dementia or elderly individuals at risk of falling.
Doctors talking to doctors: Doctors may take advantage of technology to better care for their patients. For example, your primary doctor may use a virtual consultation to connect you with a specialist by sending reports like X-rays or test results.
Personal Health Records: Often called a PHR system, a PHR app is accessible to you anytime and is a collection of information about your health that you control and maintain.
Personal Health Apps: A multitude of apps that have been created to help consumers better organize their medical information in one secure place. These digital tools may help the individual do everything from record physical activity to store personal health information.
Telehealth is constantly growing and improving, with this, the potential is endless. Technology has the potential to improve the quality of health care, making it more accessible to more individuals while providing a more efficient and better-coordinated way to incorporate health care into our daily lives. Here at Pure Vita, we are eager and thrilled to be a company built on the foundation that technology will transform this industry and how our world views health care.