Though it may seem like a recent development, the concept of distance medicine – or using technology to provide care remotely – actually dates back centuries. The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates is even said to have used smoke signals to communicate with patients in far-flung locations.
In the modern era, telehealth – also called telemedicine – has emerged as a powerful tool for improving patient care and outcomes. Here’s a look at how this growing field is making a difference:
1. Allowing patients better access to their healthcare providers: In many cases, patients living in rural or underserved areas have limited access to quality healthcare. This can make it difficult to get regular checkups or treatment for chronic conditions.
With telehealth, however, patients can consult with their healthcare providers remotely, whether it’s via video conferencing, phone call, or even text message. This makes it easier for people to get the care they need, when they need it.
2. Providing better outcomes: In addition to making healthcare more accessible, telehealth also leads to better health outcomes for patients. One study found that heart failure patients who used remote monitoring devices had a 30 percent reduction in mortality rates.
Another study showed that stroke patients who received treatment through telemedicine were less likely to experience disability or need long-term care. And a third study found that cancer patients who used telehealth services had lower levels of anxiety and depression.
3. Shortening wait times for people to see their physicians: One of the biggest complaints patients have about the healthcare system is the amount of time they have to wait to see a doctor. In some cases, people may have to wait weeks or even months for an appointment.
With telehealth, however, appointments can be scheduled much more quickly. In many cases, patients can even be seen on the same day they contact their provider. This helps to ensure that people get the care they need in a timely manner.
Telehealth is clearly making a positive impact on patient care and outcomes. As this field continues to grow and evolve, it’s likely that even more people will benefit from its many advantages.