Telehealth technologies are on the rise to become an essential tool for the modern independent practice. Telehealth is being adopted by many health systems, health plans and independent medical practices to remotely deliver more immediate access to care.
Patient demand is mostly driving adoption of telehealth-based care, as patients, especially in rural areas, experience a reduction in healthcare costs and improved quality of care. Doctors are experiencing an increase in revenues, through the reduction of healthcare costs, greater practice efficiencies and an increase in patients. Telemedicine has spread rapidly and is now becoming integrated into private practices, as well as patient homes and even the workplace.
Telehealth vs. Telemedicine
Telehealth refers to a broader scope of remote healthcare services, such a non-clinical services like provider training, administrative meetings and continuing medical education, while telemedicine refers specifically to remote clinical services. The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) has historically considered telemedicine and telehealth to be interchangeable terms, containing a wide definition of remote healthcare.
What is Telemedicine?
According to ATA, “Telemedicine is used to increase the contact between doctors and their patients and to bring additional medical expertise to consult with a patient, reach out to patients when they’re at home or to save on travel time and expense for both parties. Telemedicine includes a number of applications and services using two-way video, email, Smartphones, wireless tools and other forms of telecommunications technology.1
Telemedicine is also closely related to the term health information technology (HIT). However, HIT more commonly refers to electronic medical records (EMR or EHR) software, but telemedicine refers to the actual delivery of remote clinical services using EMR software.
Telemedicine is rapidly growing as it offers four fundamental benefits to your independent practice:
1. Improved Access. Telemedicine is being used to bring healthcare services to patients in cities and rural areas alike. Not only does telemedicine improve access to patients but it also allows you to expand the reach of your independent practice beyond your office. Telemedicine has a capacity to uniquely increase quality of service to many new patients along with your existing elderly or interested patients currently in your practice.
2. Reduced Costs. Reducing the cost of healthcare for your patients and your practice is an important reason for telemedicine adoption. Telemedicine has shown to not only reduce healthcare costs but also increase efficiency through better management of chronic diseases, reduced travel times and fewer hospital stays.
3. Improved Quality. Studies have consistently shown that the quality of healthcare services delivered via telemedicine is as good as those given in traditional in-person consultations. In some specialties, particularly in mental health and ICU care, telemedicine delivers a superior product, with greater outcomes and patient satisfaction.1 Likewise, telemedicine is gaining ground as an alternative to urgent care or the emergency department for minor concerns like ear infections and colds. Data show that telemedicine can deliver quality outcomes comparable to in-person office visits.2
4. Patient Demand. Patients want telemedicine. Telemedicine has the greatest impact on the patient and their families. It reduces travel time and expenses and improves quality of care. Multiple studies have documented patient satisfaction and support for telehealth services. Additionally, such services offer patients the access to providers that might not be available otherwise, as well as medical services that are most convenient to the patient.
Telemedicine is rapidly becoming commonplace for healthcare organizations, especially independent medical practices across the nation. Telemedicine enables practitioners to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients remotely using the latest technology in telecommunications. Telemedicine offers numerous benefits as an alternative to traditional in-person medical care. As this technology continues to grow and evolve, AdvancedMD is on the forefront in providing innovative telemedicine technology and solutions.
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1. See how AdvancedTelemedicine can change your practice.
2. Download our recent telemedicine eBook, How Telemedicine can Transform Patient Engagement.