Commonly used in medical fields such as dermatology, behavioral health and cardiology, telemedicine is offering a way to provide better care to communities underserved by physicians and hospitals. In addition to the enhanced delivery of healthcare services, telemedicine also significantly reduces the initial costs of treating numerous health conditions as well as the costs associated with follow up treatments.
Though telemedicine has not gained widespread adoption throughout the United States yet, many health care organizations and government agencies recognize it as a way to reduce unnecessary hospital visits and offer specialized services to isolated, homebound, or underserved populations. By engaging patients in their own home, hospitals can significantly reduce appointment fees through a more interactive delivery of self-care information and instructions, which will keep them on the path towards better health just as if they were to pay an office visit to their physician.
Growing categories of telemedicine include remote patient monitoring, store and forward technology, and interactive telemedicine. This is especially effective in the monitoring of chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure and other health issues that require constant attention and management. According to the American Diabetes Association, the national cost of diabetes alone in the U.S. exceeds $174 billion per year.
“Extending care coordination outside of the hospital or doctor’s office is imperative for the health and wellness of patients, even when it’s not immediately following a hospitalization,” said Dr. Deborah A. Jeffries, Director Global Healthcare Marketing for Polycom. “Chronic conditions account for a large percentage of healthcare spending in our country, and video collaboration solutions for healthcare can help patients suffering from chronic conditions manage their disease more effectively to achieve better outcomes, and a better quality of life.”
In addition to communication with a practitioner, telemedicine also brings together a community of support by allowing patients with such conditions the ability to provide peer to peer medical education to one another. This allows them an opportunity to discuss best practices for disease management and encouragement from others who have struggled with the same challenges.
A shift towards greater patient-centered care is taking place and collaborative video solutions are an essential part of the process by enabling patients to make the right choices and stay on the path towards health and wellness. Telemedicine technology is changing the delivery of healthcare by increasing the speed of diagnosis, frequency of practitioner meetings, accuracy of care, and improving overall patient experience. By embracing video in the care and management of chronic diseases, the American healthcare system can help patients live healthier lives by providing enhanced care in an efficient way as the demand for quality and efficient healthcare increases.