Is Telehealth Here to Stay? All Signs Point to Yes

Since the start of the pandemic, many regular office appointments have been moved online. No longer do patients have to travel to a doctor’s office and deal with long wait times before seeing their physicians. They can simply hop on their phone or computer to begin an appointment right away. 

But will this set-up remain once the pandemic is over?

Most signs say: yes. Telehealth is here to stay for the long run. Already, telehealth has begun to dramatically improve the patient experience for many people. Read on to learn why you probably won’t see telehealth services disappear after the pandemic. 

5 Reasons Why Telehealth Will Remain in the Healthcare System

Telehealth has slowly turned into a key way to improve patient experience.

woman holding stethoscope
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the healthcare industry to embrace a new and improved online experience. 

1. It’s Convenient

Before the pandemic, patients had to schedule regular doctor appointments around their work schedules. If the office was open early or late enough, they could schedule an appointment outside their regular working hours. Of course, this could get complicated if they had kids to drive to school or other personal obligations. Otherwise, they had to go during their lunch break or request time off for part of the day. Add in the time spent driving between destinations and they could end up losing a good chunk of their day. 

Now, patients can simply turn on their cell phones and begin a video conference call with their doctor. Telehealth now offers convenience and speed that neither patients nor physicians could enjoy before its revolution. 

2. Patients Want Telehealth Options

Recent surveys indicate that patients are onboard with telehealth. As the first point states, telehealth services are extremely convenient for patients. Telehealth also offers better flexibility when it comes to scheduling appointments and confirming follow-ups. Many patients also prefer telehealth services because it prevents them from being exposed to other patients who might be sick. 

Judging from the positive outlook shared among patients toward telehealth services, it would be sensible for healthcare providers to continue to offer them long after the pandemic ends. 

3. Technology is Continuing to Improve 

Telehealth isn’t just limited to scheduling video calls with your physician. Thanks to recent advances in technology, telehealth has successfully improved the patient experience with its new capabilities. For instance, many medical offices now offer apps for patients where they can: 

  • Schedule appointments 
  • Stay up-to-date with company updates 
  • Order prescription refills
  • Sign up for text or email alerts for regular exams
  • See test results
  • Transmit information sourced from wearable devices to a health team
  • Track medications, log food intake, and enter other pertinent medical information for healthcare providers to review

Several years ago, telehealth was clunky and difficult to use. But thanks to recent advances in technology, it is easier than ever to navigate and successfully leverage to improve the patient experience. 

4. Telehealth Offers More Patient Access to People Living in Rural or  Underserved Areas

Healthcare access is not evenly distributed across the country. While residents in urban areas can typically access a hospital within 30 minutes of their residence, people in rural areas may live up to several hours away from their closest medical clinic. Telehealth services bridge the gap between these two different geographical areas by eliminating the need for physically driving to medical clinics for certain health problems. 

Of course, people will still need to visit hospitals for emergencies and other urgent health concerns. But telehealth makes it easier than ever for patients to quickly connect with their doctors on routine matters. 

Underserved citizens, including Black and Hispanic residents, are also offered a better opportunity to connect with their healthcare providers. A while ago, telehealth services could only be accessed through a broadband internet connection. Nowadays, users can communicate with clinicians through their smartphones offering better access to residents in traditionally underserved areas. 

5.  It Can Improve Patient Experience & Engagement

Because patients are more incentivized to take advantage of telehealth services and communicate with their doctors, this should increase patient engagement rates. By forming better, more active relationships with their providers, patients are also likely to take a more active role in their health. In the long run, this can greatly improve patient outcomes. 

Current Challenges with Telehealth

How medical providers can overcome telehealth challenges to improve the patient experience.

person video conferencing with doctor
Telehealth doesn’t come without its challenges. 

While telehealth does offer great promise for the future of medicine, it does come with a few challenges. 

For instance, older generations are typically not as comfortable using telehealth services as their younger counterparts. Worries about security and privacy are also brought up at times. As a result, providers must ensure that their telehealth platforms are completely safe. For instance, while Zoom has exploded in popularity since the start of the pandemic, it is incredibly vulnerable to hacking. Some healthcare providers have strayed away from using Zoom for this reason. 

Thanks to the warp speed at which technology is advancing, the healthcare industry is constantly looking to improve the patient experience. Iron Bridge remains at the forefront of this change with its leading IT solutions in data integration, aggregation, public health management, and patient access systems. Contact the team today to learn more about Iron Bridge’s innovative health IT solutions.

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