Telehealth has changed the future of healthcare in countless ways. From cost savings to connecting patients and doctors in rural locations; telehealth is benefitting all those involved. Some would even argue that telehealth is actually changing the landscape of traditional healthcare models. Take a basic medical consultation, for example. Historically, a consultation would typically take place over the phone or email. Across the world, millions of calls and emails are placed on a daily basis to doctors who diagnose minor ailments and give medical advice to patients free of charge. What once was seen as a convenience to patients has now become a concern for doctors. These millions of calls and emails are not being billed, tracked, or put into a patients chart; and unfortunately telephone consultations can lead to misdiagnosis, without any way to go back and understand why or how.
The advent of telehealth is just one way that misdiagnoses and unbilled medical advice and consultations that have historically taken place over phone or email can be prevented. With VTC, a doctor may see what other things could potentially be going on with a patient that can’t be caught over phone or email. The cost to setup a video consultation is low for both the patient and the doctor, and the patient doesn’t have to leave the house. Finally, the doctor is getting paid for his or her consult. It’s a win-win for all involved.
However, it’s important to note that the type of technology you choose and the solutions provider you work with are of the utmost importance, according to a recent industry brief published by VSGi. There are many telehealth solutions available today, all with very unique capabilities. With video teleconferencing, it is paramount that you choose a VTC solution that provides high quality, seamless communications in real time, and is simple to operate. Poor connections, confusing technology and/or inferior technology can render telehealth inefficient, at best.
The VSGi report also notes that the key drivers to growth in the telehealth market include the aging population, the increase in chronic disease and infrastructure capabilities to accommodate them, and an increase in healthcare costs.
According to the CDC, about half of all adults in the United States have a chronic health condition, such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, asthma and obesity; and 1 in 3 have multiple conditions. Estimates of US health spending place direct costs at $176 billion for diagnosed diabetes alone. Moreover, research shows that about 50 percent of medications for chronic disease are not taken by patients as prescribed, leading to approximately 125,000 deaths and at least 10 percent of hospitalizations. There has to be solutions to this ever-increasing problem.
Part of the answer in treating acute or chronic illness is more frequent and optimal communication. Telehealth allows for more frequent dialogues to occur between patients and doctors in a much more efficient manner than in-person appointments. Because of the simplicity of video teleconferencing, missed appointments happen less frequently.
As telehealth changes the traditional landscape of healthcare, new solutions are being created at an extraordinary pace to keep up with the growth in this market. Find out more about how VSGi and Polycom have partnered to provide enterprise-level healthcare organizations with outstanding and seamless collaboration solutions.