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With continuing advancements in healthcare technology, telehealth has transitioned from a luxury to an essential part of the consumer experience. The Health Resources Services Administration defines telehealth as the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. The growth of virtual care has created a seamless integration of convenience from patient to doctor and vice versa. Healthcare practices, companies, and representatives are rapidly grasping this concept and making progress in 2019.

Here are 3 ways telehealth is changing the way healthcare is delivered:

1. Consumers Need Convenience

Telehealth, or virtual care is driven by consumerism. Patients are rapidly expecting around-the-clock access to care because of the digital world we’ve evolved into. David Houghton, MD, Medical Director at Ochsner CareConnect 360 says “Our patients have come to expect access, convenience, and quality in their healthcare that is on par with ridesharing with Uber or shopping on Amazon.” With direct-to-consumer telehealth infrastructures responding to urgent and specialty care, the doors have been opened to healthcare services 24/7. Patients can feel connected at home, work, school, and while on vacation. In 2018, consumer awareness surrounding telehealth increased by 261%, forcing the healthcare industry to get behind it. Doctor on Demand connects patients to doctors through video chat, performing a face-to-face exam, recommendation of treatment, prescriptions, and lab work. These physicians can diagnose colds & flus, allergies, depression & anxiety, skin and eye issues, and urgent care. When registered for this service, you have access to board-certified doctors with or without an insurance plan and can make easy, secure co-payments. Without leaving your home or interrupting your busy schedule, you can take control of your health by getting expert opinions from this service. Hill Ferguson, CEO of Doctor on Demand explains “This is a big step in telehealth and helps us to continue to make high-quality care accessible to everyone, everywhere.” Consumers are searching for convenient ways to live a healthy lifestyle and having access to a doctor by pressing a button on your smartphone is revolutionary and will further develop in the coming years. 

2. The Cost is Transparent and Cheaper 

With the emerging transparency of healthcare costs, it’s clear that telehealth is taking the lead. Companies like MDLIVE disclose all related costs to their services like counseling, dermatology, and psychiatry. With these costs promised before treatment begins, it gives patients the ability to shop around and find the best option and ultimately, the most cost-efficient course of action. MDLIVE has developed an app which allows patients to have access to care at any time and be your “medical companion.” Considering all social determinants people could face, not having to drive or use public transportation to be seen by your physician, does save money. With medical cost reduction paired with patient satisfaction, telehealth has positioned itself to disrupt the healthcare industry. The 2019 exam room has transformed from a doctor’s office to your home. According to Health Data Management “Telehealth has the ability effectively manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and behavioral health. Although some may argue the regular consumer doesn’t possess the equipment necessary to perform a realistic exam. Products like GreatCall, an easy to use cell phone that is programmed with 24/7 access to board-certified doctors and remote monitoring technology. It uses predictive analytics to proactively identify emerging health issues, eliminating the need to schedule routine visits. All this data is stored and monitored, alerting your physician of any changes, and ultimately cutting costs.

3. Telehealth Makes us Healthier 

In the United States, 19.3% or 60 million people of our nation’s population reside in a designated rural area. These people are restricted in their choice of care because of proximity to physicians and specialists. Sapna Kripalani, MD state’s, “Imagine the time and cost saved for the patients and the system if the patient and physician could coordinate a time to ‘log-in’ and conduct a visit without the administrative burden, time, cost and inconvenience of an office visit.” With the use of telehealth, families residing in rural areas have a wider breadth of care options, keeping Americans healthier, longer. If a patient needs to attend weekly visits with their physician practicing 2-3 hours away, the patient will be deterred from taking care of their disease. In addition, it’s not uncommon for patients to be discouraged from making well-care appointments because of the extensive wait or inconvenient scheduling. Embracing telehealth technology allows us to make appointments when it fits into our schedule and reach specialty doctors sooner. Health Data Management explains telehealth could not only help primary care physicians provide cost-effective virtual care to patients and cut down on in-office visits and long patient wait times. Before virtual care technology was accessible, patients often utilized the emergency room. Now, physicians can provide a quick consultation and insight into whether the patient needs medical attention, reducing the frequency of visits. Kripalani contends that the technology has myriad benefits—including the potential for telehealth to effectively manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and behavioral health. Having seamless and instantaneous access to healthcare results in improved patient engagement and healthier outcomes. 

We interact, maintain relationships, purchase items, and receive information through the digital world. With the development of telehealth sweeping the healthcare industry, it has become an essential component to leading a healthy lifestyle. Intertwining the physical and digital world is continuously redefining what modern healthcare is. 2019 is paving the way in healthcare cost efficiency, consumer convenience, and the perfection of virtual care. 



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