Why “Telemedicine” is the Future of Healthcare

There was a time when the healthcare industry was notoriously slow in adopting new technologies. From EHR (Electronic Health Records) to HIPAA-compliant messaging platforms, it seemed many nurses and medical professionals were reluctant to change. However, those days are over, and now “telemedicine” is very much a part of today’s care delivery model.

Consider the following critical reasons why telemedicine will continue to shape healthcare in the years to come.

CMS Guidelines

CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) is working overtime to create a policy that encourages improved patient outcomes at lower costs. RPM (remote patient monitoring), a subset of telemedicine, is helping to achieve these goals. RPM allows nurses to remotely track important health data of patients suffering from chronic conditions. This information is then used to direct treatment in ways that reduce medical emergencies.

Nursing Shortages

Nurses and therapists will always serve a critical function in the healthcare delivery model. However, the United States and other countries face major staffing shortages. Telemedicine is an effective tool to help supplement traditional nursing and therapy services via remote visitation. Some technology firms even offer highly-adaptable smartphone and web-based applications that facilitate HIPAA-compliant video visits.

Patient Preferences

One often-overlooked benefit of telemedicine is patient satisfaction. Happy patients are more likely to stay compliant with doctor, nurse and therapist directives. While many people dread a trip to the doctor’s office, most are agreeable to a “virtual” visit in their house. Telemedicine allows patients to seek care in the comfort of their own home, which results in better overall compliance and fewer missed appointments.

Geography & Mobility 

Telemedicine is proving particularly beneficial in rural and under-served regions. Small towns often find healthcare resources in short supply—particularly when it comes to specialty services. And, folks in rural communities typically drive great distances in order to reach a healthcare facility.

Telemedicine helps to solve both of these challenges. A specialty physician or nurse can evaluate a patient’s health data remotely and make decisions regarding further treatment. And, patients with limited mobility or transportation options can still stay compliant with medical appointments.

Preventative Care 

As previously stated, telemedicine is a great tool for reducing hospitalizations of the chronically ill. However, there’s also a preventative-care benefit for the general population. Patients who are hypertensive or pre-diabetic, for example, can have their health data remotely tracked. This capability allows physicians and nurses to develop effective treatment plans that may prevent disease progression.

History shows us that technology adoption often starts slowly but quickly gains momentum once a certain threshold is reached. It seems that the telemedicine “dam” has finally broken, and health systems are now embracing it en masse. Nurses, facilities and home health agencies that make the most of such innovations will improve both the efficiency and quality of patient care.

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