Telehealth Benefits and Challenges
Telehealth is prime to take off and revolutionize the way we provide and receive medical care. The benefits of telehealth services offer new ways for health systems to meet the needs of their communities. Today we will take a look at telehealth benefits and challenges to understand the value, along with shortcomings of telehealth. One of the biggest benefits of telehealth technology is the improvement of patient care. As a result, telehealth services have exploded in popularity among patients and providers alike. Healthcare professionals should expand their telehealth patient education programs to address concerns from follow-up care to chronic care. A recent study on the telehealth customer experience found that a growing vanguard of patients is increasingly willing to switch doctors who provide video visits. Moreover, experts project that the global telehealth market value will jump from $6 billion in 2016 to $19.5 billion by 2025.
The Telehealth Customer Experience
The need for telehealth services is clear. This is especially true since the United States will suffer a severe healthcare provider shortage over the next decade. Providing patients with easier access to care will improve the lives of many Americans living in rural counties. There could be as much as a 90,000-physician shortfall by 2025, leaving over 65 million people in a “primary care desert.”
However, one of the benefits of telehealth services is connecting providers with patients regardless of transportation barriers. In a study by American Well, 67% of patients have delayed seeking care for a health problem. One factor behind this is the length of time it takes to have a brick and motor physician’s visit. The average waiting time from the moment a patient schedules an appointment to go to the doctor is 24 days. Then, on the day of the appointment, the patient can expect the in-office visit to take at least 121 minutes. That’s 20 minutes spent with the doctor and remaining 101 minutes allotted to traveling to and from the doctor’s office. Patients need virtual visit access to specialists.
Compare this to the telehealth customer experience. According to Southwest Medical Associates, patients who used video visits spent 5 minutes waiting and 8-10 minutes with a physician. Telehealth patient education programs should emphasize the greater convenience of these video visits. Telehealth visits also increase the quality of care for individuals. Instead of missed follow up appointments, the patient will now have an easy way to access their doctors and physicians. For providers that are seeking to recruit new patients and satisfy existing patients, offering telehealth services can be a critical means of enhancing the patient experience.
The Growth of the Telehealth Industry
As mentioned above, the global telehealth market value may increase to $19.5 billion by 2025. This is a clear indication of the fertile ground that telehealth services have to grow. Already, in 2018, the number of patients using telehealth services is around 7 million, up from 350,000 in 2013. Becoming a remote patient is more acceptable today than ever before. In fact, most patients would prefer telehealth solutions. In addition, the available market for non-emergency telehealth visits in the United States is estimated at 400+ million potential consults.
The aging population in industrialized societies, the prevalence of chronic diseases, and the demand for self-care solutions is what’s driving the telehealth market. For example, 1 in 2 U.S. adults has a chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart disease. Given the high cost of treating a chronic illness, it is easy to see how telehealth can solve this challenge. In fact, 60% of patients who were willing to have virtual visits with a physician want it to manage a chronic condition. Telehealth can improve the quality of care these patients receive and aid in the reduction of lives lost due to chronic conditions.
The benefits of telehealth services include reducing readmissions and improving the rate of patient compliance. This means that telehealth customer experience can extend to pre-op check-ins or post-surgical follow-ups. Sadly, hospitals readmit 15-25% of patients within 30 days of discharge. Many of these readmissions are preventable. Through convenient video visits, telehealth services can ensure that the overall health of the patient is addressed immediately during pre-op check-ups or post-surgical follow-ups.
The Importance of Telehealth Patient Education
Patients usually receive health-related education during in-office visits with a physician. But, because of various factors, time, distance, and cost, this delivery method has become less viable. For this reason, telehealth patient education is a critical component in the success of our healthcare system. Educational support not only provides patients with health-related information but also empowers them to take on a more active role in their health.
Subjects who received telehealth patient education demonstrated improvements or comparable results to in-office care. For instance, patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, showed improvements in fasting blood sugar, three-month average glucose control, and post-prandial glucose levels. Virtual education programs providers physicians the opportunity to improve the care they give to patients and enhance the overall healthcare system.
Patients are demanding that providers have telehealth services in their practice. Download our latest Infographic for an in-depth understanding of the telehealth customer experience and benefits of telehealth technology.