Have you ever wondered if it will be possible to have your physician service through a text? It should be noted that at this moment, the whole world undergoes considerable changes in technological advancements. This also has some impact on health services provision. Consider this: In the US, more than 60% of adults deal with at least one chronic health complication. And just think about it – a revolutionary answer to all lifelong health issues is right there, just waiting for us! Enter into the world of telehealth – combining health care and technology that is ready to change patient care.
What Is Telehealth?
Telehealth, a dynamic fusion of telecommunications with healthcare, has revolutionized patient care through the utilization of various digital technologies. This enhances a stronger bond with a patient by making real-time, face-to-face video consultations. Virtual check-ins ensure quick, non-face-to-face communication, timely interventions, and appropriate actions. The use of remote monitoring systems that continuously track vital signs enables prompt management of chronic diseases.
With asynchronous communication, patients can send information whenever they wish, enabling a continuous dialogue. Mobile health applications, placing health management tools directly in the hands of patients, can promote patient engagement and enhance health education. The store-and-forward method facilitates the transmission of information for later reevaluation. The flexibility of telehealth ensures equal treatment and access to the best medicines for individuals, irrespective of their location, representing a modern approach to patient care.
The Role of Telehealth in Chronic Care Management
There has been a tremendous weight on the healthcare management sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic came with much chaos, and there were numerous challenges to the health system. As a result, healthcare providers had to adapt.
Healthcare delivery through remote means was preferred as an alternative to in-person services to avoid transmission. This pandemic mostly targeted those who are already vulnerable or people living with diseases such as HIV, heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease. Reductions in services, closure of health facilities, no access to public transportation led to considerable barriers to ED visits, clinic visits, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up for chronic diseases. Thus, the ideal way to continue to ensure the provision of quality healthcare services to the chronically ill patient population was to integrate and put into use telehealth technology.
Due to its benefits, telehealth started gaining attention from both health professionals and consumers towards increasing their productivity in the health environment. Although mHealth technologies have long been familiar within the medical community, their wholehearted embrace has been hindered by issues such as insurance coverage, mindset, and stigma. Previously, these technologies were employed as part of an approach to tackle challenges in accessing rural healthcare, including addressing staff shortages. Telehealth enables rural patients to consult specialists immediately from the privacy and convenience of their homes or local clinics. With the widespread expansion of the COVID-19 disease, information and communication technologies evolved to provide wider capabilities in telehealth practice.
Benefits of Telehealth in Chronic Care Management
Telemedicine is very beneficial in chronic care management. Here are some of them:
Improved Access to Healthcare Services
Telehealth makes health services accessible to patients with chronic illnesses. This enables patients to seek advice from their healthcare providers in the convenient settings of home or nearby facilities. It does not require long-distance journeying, which is difficult for mobile-challenged patients in the area.
Reduced Healthcare Costs
By making it unnecessary to visit the doctor personally, telehealth cuts down on healthcare costs. Cheaper phone calls, videoconferences, etc., enable patients to communicate with their healthcare providers and save money instead of visiting them physically. It also cuts down on emergency department visits, which are more costly than routine care.
Improved Quality of Care
Telehealth enhances the quality of care for patients with chronic diseases of patients. Regular routine care is a necessity in the management of chronic illnesses, and patients need to receive it. Another advantage of telehealth is that it affords patients an opportunity to access specialists who could not have been available in their locality.
Increased Patient Engagement
Telehealth enhances patients’ engagement in chronic care. Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) is a service provided to patients who, in turn, monitor their health status. RPM services enable patients to access information about their health in real-time and communicate with their physicians. This, in turn, enables healthcare providers to make prudent choices in patient care.
The Evidence that Telemedicine Works
The Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) has collected and summarized various data, revealing that cardiovascular disease incurs an annual cost ranging from $273 billion to $444 billion. It is widely acknowledged that controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as quitting smoking, significantly reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.
However, as discussed above, the CPSTF reviews revealed that the telemedicine interventions assisted cardiac patients in following their medication protocol more accurately, scheduling their follow-ups with their providers, setting their health-related goals, and managing their risks. The panel noted that interactive digital devices help patients self-manage their blood pressure and also stated that telemedicine patients were more adherent to the cardiac rehab program.
The CPSTF likewise suggested that the use of text messaging interventions in patients with asthma, diabetes, HIV infection, and cardiovascular disease helps these patients to follow prescribed medication regimens. These messages may be either weekly reminders or timely ones sent through mobile phones. In some cases, the messages are personalized and may even allow for two-way communication, with patients having the ability to text their providers. A meta-analysis shows that text message interventions doubled the odds of medication adherence in chronic illness patients.
The panel also identified studies showing that telehealth interventions improved patients’ diets, leading to lower sodium and higher fruit and vegetable intake among those having cardiovascular disease, end-stage renal disease, and diabetes. These chronic care management interventions through telehealth resulted in reduced weight and blood pressure control.
Conclusion: Bridging Gaps in Chronic Care
The digital era is upon us, and telehealth is the light at the end of the tunnel for chronic care. Telehealth offers low-risk accessibility, high security, improved efficiency, and cost-effective solutions that will change the face of healthcare.
Telehealth is the way chronic care will go ahead in the future. It does not only cater to the immediate needs of patients but adapts a patient-centered approach to healthcare. During this transition, healthcare providers and patients should welcome the changes associated with telehealth, which will make life easier, better, and cheaper when managing chronic conditions.