Telemedicine. The telemedicine definition, broken down, involves two parts: “tele” or through a communication mode that is not in person; and “medicine” or the treatment of health conditions.
Telemedicine surprises some. People go to the doctor and they sit in the waiting room. It is the age-old way. Telemedicine seems foreign, but more people are using it.
Why, you might ask?
The answer is simple. Here are four reasons telemedicine trumps going to the doctor.
Better Access to Care
Telemedicine needs equipment: A computer, an internet connection, a microphone and a camera. For that reason, it languished until Americans caught up with technology.
Today, most Americans have that equipment. As a result, telemedicine has become more mainstream. Access to care has improved. Patients who would have trouble seeing a doctor in-person now have the option of a video-conference.
These patients include:
- Long distance patients
- Patients with few doctors in their area
- Rural patients
Video-conferencing connects patients with doctors when there are no doctors around or there is a shortage of doctors. This is true of patients with rare conditions. A shortage of specialists in the area might prohibit patients from seeing one. With telemedicine services, patients conference with the specialists around the country.
No Transportation Costs
Imagine this: You’ve made an appointment with a doctor and found out they are located downtown. You do the mental gymnastics in your head: Parking costs, the cost of gas, the time spent driving.
Telemedicine services do away with these. Patients have video-conferences from the comfort of their own home. No need to drive. No need to spend money on gas. No need to deal with parking.
Think of the people this helps:
- Stay at home moms
- Independent contractors
- The elderly
Work from home? Take care of the kids? Are home-bound or find it difficult to drive? Sick of dealing with the hassle of parking and traffic?
Telemedicine services may be right for you.
Better Quality of Care
Researchers authored a study: How do the outcomes of patients change from telemedicine to traditional in-person healthcare? The answers may surprise you.
With telemedicine, patients had:
- 38% fewer hospital admissions
- 31% fewer hospital re-admissions
- 63% chance of staying fewer days in the hospital
- More engagement with their healthcare
The researchers did it with a purpose: Find how to reduce healthcare costs. Even after total program costs were included, telemedicine resulted in an overall less cost than traditional medicine.
For a country with billions of dollars spent in healthcare each year, telemedicine services represent an option for solvency in the future.
Better Mental Health Treatment
Anxiety. Depression. Drug addiction. Bipolar disorder.
Mental health has a stigma. Patients are afraid of how they will look if they seek help. Anxiety, which is the number one mental illness in America, can prevent a trip to the doctor. 80% of those with depression do not seek help. And alcohol is the number one drug in America.
Telemedicine provides an option: Get help, without going to a physical location, without breaking anonymity, by seeking a doctor online.
Telemedicine benefits for mental health include qualified therapists, who are there at the click of a mouse. Doctors who diagnose and treat people through video conferencing. Anonymity. Built relationships.
Also: telemedicine operates across the country. Telemedicine Florida to California.
From better access to care to better quality of care, those are four reasons why telemedicine beats traditional in-person treatment.