The past few years have brought about many challenges for healthcare organizations, but they have also brought many opportunities. Telehealth is a prime example. When the pandemic hit, telehealth allowed providers to continue caring for patients in a way that would keep themselves and their patients safe.
The question now becomes how much—or how little—to use telehealth going forward. What we do know is patients like having the option to meet virtually.1 We also know that care provided by telehealth can be just as good as in-person care in many cases.2 So, how can you determine whether implementing an ongoing telehealth program into your healthcare experience is right for your organization? That is the question this blog will address by weighing all the pros and cons of telemedicine.
The Pros of Telehealth
Besides its ability to keep patients and staff safe during a pandemic, telehealth has many benefits with the potential to bring long-lasting improvements to our healthcare delivery system.
According to Goldman Sachs, the U.S. healthcare industry could achieve billions in cost savings by broadly adopting digital technologies, including telehealth.3 One example is chronic disease management. Sixty percent of people in the U.S. have at least one chronic condition, and 40% have two or more.4 Chronic conditions cost the U.S. nearly $3.8 trillion each year, almost a fifth of our GDP.5 Leveraging telehealth technology, along with wearable devices, enables more proactive management of chronic diseases through remote patient monitoring.
- Enables daily and routine check-ins with patients to monitor clinical progress at home or other healthcare settings.
- Allows providers to intervene after detecting complications.
- Supports more effective chronic disease management, reduced costs, and improved outcomes.
- Better use of resources.
- Enables post-operative monitoring that reduces hospitalizations, readmissions, and ED visits.
Expanded access to specialists
Data from the Association of American Medical Colleges indicates we could see a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians within the next 12 years. The majority of which will be specialty physicians.6 Telehealth helps mitigate these shortages by enabling high-demand specialists to see more patients without spending hours traveling from facility to facility. The problem is especially challenging in rural areas where there are currently just 39.8 physicians for every 100,000 people,7 and 25% of hospitals are at risk of closing.8
Enhance patient engagement
Telemedicine enhances the patient experience by creating an immersive environment that allows the care team, patients, and their families to participate in virtual rounding and remote assessments. This cohesion helps keep everyone on the same page. Ensuring patients and their families understand their condition and care plan, improving adherence and outcomes.
Quality of care
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) found that telehealth delivers “as good as or better than usual care” outcomes for specific populations.9 Whether the patient is in an acute care setting, an urgent care setting, or at home, high-quality telehealth technology such as PTZ cameras, digital stethoscopes, Horus scopes, and other medical devices enable more effective assessments, observations, communication, and collaboration.
Telehealth is more convenient for both the provider and the patient. Providers can see patients remotely without having to spend half a day on the road. Patients can receive care without having to travel long distances. Telehealth eliminates transportation and travel barriers from the equation, helping patients get more timely access to care. For hospitals with limited resources, telemedicine technology can help to set up virtual care centers. VCCs enable fewer clinicians to monitor more patients without additional pressure. This technology can be especially beneficial in large ICUs, cardiac monitoring programs, or post-discharge monitoring. VCCs become telehealth command centers where patients receive the highest quality care, from triage to diagnosis to referral to remote monitoring.
The Cons of Telehealth
While the benefits of telehealth are many, there are potential challenges that each provider organization must weigh when considering a long-term solution.
Buying, implementing, managing equipment
In these challenging times, provider challenges include staffing shortages and razor-thin margins. Finding the financing with which to purchase new telehealth equipment, not to mention the resources to implement and manage it, can seem daunting. This feeling comes as no surprise. Especially regarding organizations that have been hit the hardest by the COVID pandemic. However, some solutions, like VidyoHealth, integrate with existing equipment. With our telemedicine-enabled technology, the medical cart becomes more than a device to hold a monitor; it becomes a mobile, flexible healthcare delivery solution. This technology brings the benefits of telemedicine to any healthcare experience. VidyoHealth medical carts do not include large price tags as other clinical technologies do. Plus, our solutions seamlessly integrate with your EMR and existing workflows. These qualities help to ensure high utilization and a positive ROI.
We hear almost daily about data breaches in healthcare, and it has become a primary concern for both providers and their patients. VidyoHealths telehealth solutions are fully encrypted and HIPAA compliant for both media and signaling. It is also optimized for high fidelity across various networks, devices, and locations. With VidyoHealth, providers and patients can rest assured they are receiving the highest level of data security in the industry. Our telemedicine platforms design protects video streams during transmission so no unauthorized parties can access a video conference while in session. And VidyoHealth does not store or access any form of PHI while providing our healthcare cloud services offerings; our transmissions of communications are conducted over encrypted channels.
Fewer in-person interactions
There is no denying that in-person engagements are essential to building the patient-provider relationship. And those relationships play a tremendous role in patient satisfaction and loyalty. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be one or the other. A hybrid solution where patients are seen in the office when necessary and remotely when they prefer is ideal. The benefit here is that it gives patients a choice. And in a time when patients have so many options in where to get their healthcare, offering them the flexibility of telehealth gives providers a competitive advantage. The high-quality solutions of VidyoHealth, like our HD streaming and one-click connectivity, help enhance the patient experience no matter their location.
A New Approach
Telemedicine’s pros and cons are a hot topic today, as more and more practices consider telehealth for a wide variety of services, but the challenges we discussed don’t have to be universal. If you partner with VidyoHealth, we will do everything in our power to promote telehealth benefits while minimizing the challenges. When you work with VidyoHealth, you work with a platform dedicated to providing quality care, supporting providers, and creating a telehealth experience unlike any other.
At VidyoHealth, we are proud of our telehealth platform. We would be more than happy to discuss the benefits and challenges of telehealth and what our platform does to meet those challenges.