The Scoop on Telehealth: What Patients Should Know
Are you considering telehealth services to address your health concerns, fill a prescription, speak with a doctor, or cross one more thing off your to-do list? It’s worth your consideration. Forbes estimates that telehealth services are saving patients an average of 101 minutes compared to an in-office visit, when accounting for travel and wait times.
Perhaps one of the most appealing aspects of telehealth services is the time it takes, but patients are also finding meeting with a physician or another healthcare provider virtually is not just faster, but more affordable, convenient, and in sync with when they actually need to see a provider.
Here’s the truth: Approximately two-thirds of patients admit to delaying seeking care from a medical professional for a health concern. Their reasoning:
- 23 percent of patients say it costs too much.
- 23 percent of patients believe it takes too long to see a doctor.
- 36 percent of patients wait to see if the issue will clear up on its own.
- 13 percent of patients say they are too busy.
101 minutes door-to-door per appointment, high co-pays, and inconvenient appointment times? These reasons are all keeping patients from getting the care they need.
Telehealth visits are much more efficient, easy to schedule, and in many cases, more affordable for patients. But what do patients need to know about virtual visits and consultations with their healthcare providers? Here’s an explanation of what patients should know about telehealth.
What Is Telehealth?
Telehealth services refer to services in which healthcare providers have the software tools they need to treat patients without an in-person visit. Usually, this means patients connect with their provider via internet access on their computer, smartphone, or tablet.
There are several ways patients can consult with a healthcare professional through telehealth services. Telehealth examples include:
- Talking with their provider through a video or audio chat.
- Sending electronic messages through a secure messaging, email system, or a secure file exchange.
- Using remote monitoring tools so providers can monitor patients from home, like sharing vital signs, blood sugar levels, and more.
Telehealth is a broad term that the Health Resources & Services Administration refers to as “The use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, health administration, and public health.”
Telehealth vs. Telemedicine
Telehealth can be thought of as a broad, umbrella term to describe a range of virtual healthcare services. So, how does telehealth differ from telemedicine, especially if the two are used nearly interchangeably?
In truth, telehealth and telemedicine are two terms that mean very similar things. HealthIT.gov explains that while telemedicine refers very specifically to remote clinical care—a physician consulting with a patient via videoconference, for example—telehealth also includes the remote non-clinical services that keep a clinic running; scheduling, administrative meetings, patient charting for in- and out-of-office visits, and more.
The Department of Health and Human Services outlined the kinds of care patients may be able to get through virtual medical care platforms like ViClinic:
- Receiving the results of a lab test or an x-ray
- Updating prescriptions and monitoring medications
- Getting counseling and online therapy and managing mental health care
- Seeking treatment for recurring conditions like migraines or urinary tract infections
- Scheduling follow-up appointments after procedures like surgeries
- Getting treatment for urgent care illnesses like colds or other viruses
- Receiving physical or occupational therapy at home
- Managing health goals from home for conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol
- Receiving treatment for attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
The Perks of Telehealth for Patients
Many patients find that they love—and in many cases, even prefer—telemedicine services thanks to the many perks. Telehealth benefits include:
- Increased flexibility: Finding time to get to an in-person appointment can be challenging. Depending on a patient’s schedule, some weeks it may be almost impossible. Telehealth visits reduce the amount of time needed to consult with a doctor. Patients no longer need to worry about travel time, leaving work, or finding childcare. It’s easier to get necessary care without all the stress that can come from scheduling an appointment.
- Better access to care: Often, inconvenient appointment times or locations create a barrier for some patients. Even though they may need to consult with their physician or healthcare provider, these challenges may cause some patients to delay pursuing the medical care they need. A quick, convenient telehealth appointment makes it easier to confer with a doctor and come up with a course of treatment. Physicians may be better able to diagnose issues before they become more serious, potentially keeping patients in better health.
- Improved access to specialists: In some cases, patients may only need to consult with a generalist for concerns regarding things like a common cold or the flu. But getting in to see a specialist can be harder. One study found that 65 percent of patients were “likely to get a call with a specialist” through telehealth services, making it simpler and faster to get the care they need for initial appointments and follow-up care.
- More affordable treatment: Often, telehealth services are more affordable compared to in-person appointments with healthcare providers.
Those wondering how telehealth is used in healthcare should also take note that many healthcare professionals are now using virtual health services to connect with patients in remote areas, as well as homebound or elderly patients who may struggle to get to an in-person appointment at a clinic or physician’s office.
Patient-Centered Telehealth Services with ViClinic
Patients are seeking out telehealth and telemedicine services in record numbers. In fact, it’s estimated that nearly a quarter of patients will rely on telehealth services at least once in 2022.
Why should patients use ViClinic to connect with their healthcare providers?
ViClinic is centered around the needs of patients. It’s an all-in-one virtual care management solution that allows patients to track patient charts and records in-person and online for a seamless experience no matter how patients meet with their providers. What’s more, it’s secure, robust, and protects patient data to maintain privacy and security.
Additionally, ViClinic allows patients to meet with their providers to take charge of their well-being anywhere, anytime. It’s simple to use, affordable for patients, and keeps them safe from the risk of potential exposure to illnesses, as they might in a clinical setting.
To consult with your preferred healthcare provider from anywhere, connect with the ViClinic team today.