Healthcare News & Insights

How telemedicine is revolutionizing health care

gettyimages-476768140Telemedicine has been around for more than 40 years, originally serving as a way to connect doctors to rural patients. With rural hospitals continuing to close at an alarming rate, this is still a highly valid use. However, as technology has evolved over the decades, so has telemedicine. Today, it’s a safe, convenient, cost-effective way for essentially any patient to communicate with his or her healthcare providers. In this guest post, Faisal Ansari, co-founder of a telemedicine platform in the medical marijuana industry, highlights three of the most notable perks of telemedicine. 

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Telemedicine is expected to continue replacing traditional office visits as the primary method of health care. By 2018, analysts predict it will be a $4.5 billion industry.

The benefits of telemedicine affect both providers and patients, making it a simple solution to several ongoing issues within the healthcare industry.

Telemedicine’s rapid growth

Increased internet bandwidth, face-to-face video chat capabilities and the rise of wearable sensors are making telemedicine an even more viable option that can be applied to virtually all specialties, including primary care, cardiology, mental health, behavioral therapy and natural medicines.

For example, the ease of video chat has certainly had an impact on psychiatry. Psychiatrists can now seamlessly connect with patients via HIPAA-compliant telemedicine platforms and provide care and diagnoses from afar. Further, patients recovering from ER or ICU visits – especially those who suffer from strokes, dementia or other neurological diseases – often need continuous rehabilitative care that doesn’t necessarily require in-person visits. Telemedicine makes it easy for these individuals to receive the rehabilitative care they need without adding the stress of traveling to and from a clinic.

Among consumers, popular opinion is swaying favorably toward telemedicine, with 70% of patients reporting they’re happy to communicate through text, email or video with their healthcare providers. While an impressive 350,000 patients used this option in 2013, that number is expected to reach 7 million people in 2018.

On the provider side, nearly 90% of healthcare executives responding to a recent Foley survey reported they’re either developing or have already implemented telemedicine in their organizations.

Telemedicine is clearly on the rise, and as technology continues to advance and awareness continues to build, we can only expect it to keep growing.

Benefits of telemedicine

Telemedicine is the ultimate model of consumer-driven health care. Patients have access to physicians and medical advice at any time from any location – which, as a result, provides a ripple effect of benefits to providers as well.

Three of the most notable perks of telemedicine are:

  1. Access for all. Teledoctors are changing medicine for individuals unable or unwilling to leave their homes to seek medical treatments. Whether it’s due to geographic location, a lack of transportation, poor physical condition, psychological issues, busyness or other reasons, some people simply can’t or don’t want to visit a hospital or doctor’s office.
    A recent survey found that 21% of patients use telemedicine to avoid the commute to a doctor’s visit, while 20% simply don’t want to leave home. Telemedicine, telepharmacy and other remote medical services bridge a necessary gap for many people who are avoiding or missing out on critical health care.
  2. Increased volume. Not only does telemedicine increase patient access, it also optimizes scheduling allowing physicians to see a larger volume of patients in a shorter period of time. No longer do doctors need to rely on patients to arrive on time or worry about crowded waiting rooms if appointments are delayed or run long.
    Studies show that nearly 75% of doctor, urgent care and ER visits could be handled via phone or video. These visits are often unnecessary, averaging about 121 minutes each. Telemedicine is poised to remove this major bottleneck from the world of health care.
  3. Better margins. With more patients being diagnosed in less time, more revenue is generated for physicians and hospitals. Further, medical professionals could potentially save on office costs – including staffing, utilities and rent – by providing on-call and on-demand medical services rather than chaining themselves to office visits.
    One hospital reported that it saves $86.64 every time a patient uses online services instead of visiting the ER or urgent care. But the savings aren’t just exclusive to healthcare providers; patients spend less on travel and other costs related to health care as well.

If a practice has a telemedicine element, it can attract a whole new population of customers and increase revenue instantly. This is the most efficient and convenient healthcare model available today. It reduces costs, optimizes time, boosts access and enables doctors to have a global impact. No longer are they confined by the borders of their towns or cities.

Faisal Ansari is the co-founder of MMJRecs, a telemedicine platform in the medical marijuana industry. As a former cancer patient who has reaped the medicinal benefits of marijuana, Faisal co-founded MMJRecs to help others connect to doctors with convenience and ease.

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