How Telemedicine Is Changing Healthcare
Technology has changed many areas of our lives. Thanks to advances in telemedicine, there have been significant shifts in the way patients experience care. From convenient appointments to faster specialist care, many of these changes are positive.
With advances in consumer devices such as fitness watches, improving self-care has become easier for patients. Now it’s possible for them to monitor their blood pressure, pulse rate, oxygen saturation, and even conditions such as atrial fibrillation. When patients notice unusual trends, they can present them to their physician and expedite their treatments by avoiding the ambulatory monitoring that usually follows.
Depending on where patients live, they may find that accessing specialist health services is difficult. Rural communities tend to suffer the most, as specialist doctors are in short supply. Thanks to telemedicine, sending records and images electronically allows patients to access specialist advice despite local shortages. In some areas, telemedicine has allowed rural residents to shorten wait times from 7 weeks to 1.5 weeks.
With many people working longer hours and leading hectic lives, accessing routine GP appointments is difficult. Before telemedicine, working individuals needed to take time away from work or they would have to rely on scarce out-of-hours slots. Today, video consultations are available, making life easier for those who can’t take time away from work. Although such services aren’t appropriate for all conditions, they can make life easier for those who need repeat prescriptions and other appointments where physical examinations aren’t necessary.
Much like attending a GP appointment, seeing a therapist or counselor isn’t always convenient. According to the American Psychological Association, online therapies are often beneficial for patients who choose to use them. For those who live in rural areas where therapists aren’t always available, this could transform mental health for the better. Additionally, individuals who have caring responsibilities or whose condition makes it difficult for them to leave the house will have an easier time finding someone who can support their condition.
Overall, telemedicine is speeding up appointment times and making different types of care more accessible. Those who live in rural areas appear to see some of the greatest benefits, especially when they were unable to access services before. As time goes on, newer technologies could present further changes for patients and clinicians alike.