Experts weigh in on a new era for one of healthcare’s fastest-growing initiatives.
Modern-day technology has healthcare infrastructure facing continuous change.
One of the most interesting ways is Telemedicine, which offers leading benefits and access to specialized providers between provider and patient.
As of 2013, it was estimated that nearly 350,000 people were using telehealth services, while over 7,000,000 people worldwide became telehealth patients.
According to the “Physician Trends 2016 Report“, the market value is set to hit $36.2 billion by 2020, up from $14.3 billion in 2014, when just over 600,000 patients received telehealth services.
What is telemedicine and why can it work?
The concept of telemedicine started with the birth of telecommunications technology, the means of sending information over a distance in the form of electromagnetic signals.
But it was not until 1925 when telemedicine started grabbing the attention of the public eye, according to eVisit, when a cover illustration of the Science and Invention magazine featured an odd invention by Dr. Hugo Gernsback called the “teledactyl.”
This imagined tool would use spindly robot fingers and radio technology to examine a patient from afar and show the doctor a video feed of the patient. While this invention never got past the concept stage, it did predict the popular telemedicine definition we think of today – a remote video consultation between doctor and patient.
In the present day, these sorts of innovation have facilitated remote in-home monitoring, rapid and easy contact with doctors, improved administrative efficiency, and implemented a culture of cost-effective methods that reduce expenses for patients and doctors alike.
For example, 92% of patients save over 30 dollars in fuel costs; 84% of them saved $100 in wages, and 74% saved nearly 150 dollars in family expenses, making the cost-relation towards this technology significantly attractive.
Who can benefit?
Implementation of this type of treatment has helped hospitals boost their revenue, as the clinics saw a 2 million dollar rise after including these technologies.
For example, according to HealthLeaders, the UC Davis Health System now offers access to 30 specialty care services ranging from behavioral health and dermatology to audiology and ophthalmology for both children and adults. Recently, the system reported it was able to grow its pediatric medicine practice through telemedicine.
They had over 2,000 children transferred to the hospital from 16 surrounding hospitals connected due to its telemedicine innovation between July 2003 and December 2010, boosting the average hospital revenue from $2.4 million to $4.0 million per year, while average professional billing revenue also increased from $314,000 to $688,000 per year.
December’s 2018 all-telehealth issue of Health Affairs found that rural and smaller hospitals using a telemedicine platform increased the number of hours they could replace physician coverage with advanced practice coverage to an average of 17.1 hours a day within three years, while two of those hospitals created 24-hour-a-day coverage, saving an average of $117,000 a year in salaries.
Telemedicine was originally created as a way to treat patients who were far away from their local health facilities or in areas of with shortages of medical professionals. While telemedicine is still used today to address these problems, it’s increasingly becoming a tool for convenient medical care.
Telemedicine vs telehealth
If you want to get technical, telemedicine is really a subset of telehealth.
In much of the healthcare industry, the terms “telehealth” and “telemedicine” are often used interchangeably.
Telehealth and telemedicine definitions encompass very similar services, including: medical education, e-health patient monitoring, patient consultation via video conferencing, health wireless applications, transmission of image medical reports, and many more.
Explained by Chiron Health on their website, there are two different definitions for both, and they stand as follows:
“The term telehealth includes a broad range of technologies and services to provide patient care and improve the healthcare delivery system as a whole. Telehealth is different from telemedicine because it refers to a broader scope of remote healthcare services than telemedicine.”