You are currently viewing Telehealth: Technology Meets Healthcare

Telehealth: Technology Meets Healthcare

Back

The use of telehealth technology in healthcare has recently increased tremendously. The surge has driven developers to master their craft further, spurring competition between telehealth providers. The result has been incredible technological advancements.  

This blog post discusses how telehealth technology manages health information, why it is important, the benefits of telehealth technology, current healthcare challenges, and what you need to know about data privacy in telehealth.  

Telehealth technology stores, shares, and analyzes health information.  

Also referred to as health information technology (Health IT), devices like Remotion Patient Monitoring (RPM) devices record patient data, store it, share it with the doctor, and analyze it, streamlining the doctor’s workload.  

Here are a few types of technology that makes this high level of data management possible:  

  • Internet of Things (IoT) devices allow patients to manage their conditions remotely. This proactive approach by patients reduces their number of emergencies. An example is Amazon Echo, which can connect the user with a healthcare professional, answer questions, and determine if the user has the flu. 
  • mHealth (programs and applications for smartphones) allows patients and their doctors to communicate securely. For example, a patient might receive a text message reminding him to take his medications.  
  • Electronic Health Records (EHR) store and share data, leaving no need to call around for your patients’ records. The EHR is cloud-based, storing the information and tying it to the patient, so the patients’ care team can access their records wherever they receive care.   
  • Patients and their doctors can use live videoconferencing for appointments. Additionally, specialists and primary care physicians can discuss things like moving the patient to a new hospital. Alternatively, providers can send their colleagues recorded videos when they use store-and-forward videoconferencing
  • Then, there is the audio-only option. The patient and doctor communicate via a mobile phone or landline.  

Why is Telehealth Technology important?  

Telehealth technology is important because there is a greater number of people with chronic conditions. Chronic conditions are more manageable with telehealth.  

Physicians can connect with their patients and provide healthcare services and preventive care that focuses upon patient education. Then patients know how to manage their disorders, and their conditions can improve or stabilize. 

Benefits of Telehealth Technology for Patients & Healthcare Providers  

  • Telehealth helps patients connect virtually with their doctors. 

Telehealth technology enables doctors to provide healthcare services remotely. Patients receive care, reminders, advice, education, intervention, remote admissions, and monitoring through telehealth technology. RPM devices, like remote heart monitors, enable patients to connect with their doctors digitally. A study focused upon cardiac patients’ experiences with RPM following surgery revealed a 30% reduction in hospital readmissions.    

  • Telehealth cuts healthcare costs for patients and their doctors 

Since the patient is proactively caring for their health, they don’t visit the clinic as often.  

  • Telehealth technology saves time spent on paperwork 

Clinic staff members who use EMR spend less time on forms.  

  • HIPAA-compliant telehealth platforms protect data from breaches  

When clinics use paper forms, they run the chance of an accidental breach. Before using EHR, breaches often occurred when a staff member mishandles forms.  

  • Telehealth appointments controls exposure to illnesses 

Crowded waiting rooms might lead to patients being exposed to illness. With telehealth, patients connect with physicians from the safety and comfort of their home. 

  • Telehealth technology holds everyone accountable 

Telehealth technology holds the physician accountable. If a doctor receives a request through the software from a patient and ignores it, the system stores that data, and the software notifies the next higher person in the chain of command for the clinic.  

  • Improved clinical outcomes occur when using telehealth software.  

One example is when a patient reduces their blood pressure due to the education and accountability provided by telehealth technology.    

Current Health Care Challenges  

Despite the many benefits of telehealth software, there are some challenges.  

  • Uncertainty around the availability of the waiver status held by many services throughout COVID has providers worried.  

Previously, payers didn’t reimburse fully for telehealth services. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services extended the changes that made telehealth available to many more patients. Still, no one knows what will happen to the waiver status after COVID.    

  • Sustaining the growth of telehealth requires focus. 

Telehealth developers will continue to focus on creating a seamless interface that improves data integration and insights. Physicians caring for patients with chronic illnesses will need to maintain proactive patient engagement within the platforms.  

  • Employees must integrate virtual health-related tasks into their workday.  

Additionally, those who have already fully integrated telehealth activities into their day might need to incorporate hybrid care models into their schedules.  

  • Incentives for using telehealth need to align with value-based care models.  

Providers need to know they can change their fee-for-service mindset without reimbursement worries.  

Data Privacy in Telehealth 

The ramifications for the clinic and the patient are severe when HIPAA compliance isn’t in place. However, the U.S. Office of Civil Rights’ Guidelines on Health Information Exchange (HIE) allows an exception from punishment for non-compliance during the pandemic. If the data shared without the patient’s consent serves the publics’ interests, there will be no ramifications.   

Hackers also target cloud computing platforms and software vendors. Unfortunately, hackers who attack these organizations receive access to provider and patient information from multiple locations. So, to prevent data breach it is advisable for practice and their staff to be educated on security, email and technological safeguards. 

If you choose to add telehealth to your list of healthcare tools, make sure the software is HIPAA compliant.  

Key Takeaways  

Telehealth technology will play a critical role in meeting the healthcare needs of the United States long into the future. Many providers are happy with their practice’s growth since adopting telehealth technology. Perhaps most significantly, telehealth has encouraged a patient-centric approach to care. The patients’ proactive approach to their healthcare can provide lasting results.