For centuries, hospitals remained the primary infrastructure for healthcare delivery. Services including patient’s checkups, diagnosis, and disease management were rendered in a physical hospital building. Apart from the above services, healthcare providers could only access the patient’s information from these locations. Previously, patient records were provided through paperwork, among other manual technologies, including photocopying and hand-delivering documents (Gogia, Novaes, Basu, Gogia K., & Gogia S., 2020). Patients also used to travel long hours to access healthcare, which was expensive. Given the current healthcare sector focus on the efforts to contain costs, improve care delivery, meet consumers’ needs, and early diagnosis and treatment, telemedicine is becoming an attractive tool.
Physical barriers have been a great challenge in health care services provision. In some instances, patients shun from seeking healthcare services because some are almost inaccessible. As the work by Kruse et al., (2017) argue, long waiting time and list, extensive traveling costs and inaccessibility of healthcare services are the significant issues facing public health around the world. With the increased use of technology, patients can access healthcare anytime, anyplace, which promises substantial participation of patients in their healthcare decisions.
In healthcare provision, the patient’s access to information can be beneficial to health outcomes. The healthcare sector is mainly benefiting from technology through health informatics that heavily integrates technology and innovation. As Dawson, Tulu & Horan (2009) note in their work, access to information is imperative since it enables a good relationship between patients and their physicians. The easy access to information also assists in an early diagnosis. With many devices that the patients can use to reach out to their healthcare providers, some medical issues are noticed and taken care of as early as possible. For instance, a person with an unusual swelling near their breast may contact their healthcare provider using a video for early diagnosis. In the past, extended travel, travel expenses, among other geographical barriers, hindered early diagnosis.
Telemedicine is also working towards improving the patient’s outcome. Telemedicine is effectively used in chronic pain management. For people with chronic pain, in-person clinical visits can be back-breaking (Gogia et al., 2020). Nowadays, telemedicine is mostly used for pain management, irrespective of the geographical location. Apart from reducing clinical visits among patients with chronic pains, telemedicine is primarily reducing patient’s expenses, as argued earlier. Travelling requires money, and in situations where the hospital is far, some patients have to get accommodation. With telemedicine, such costs are eliminated, and pain is managed effectively.
Apart from the management of chronic pain, Gogia et al. (2019) note that various diseases, including chronic liver disease and after liver transplant, are easily monitored through telemedicine. Kruse et al. (2017) point out that physicians are using a telephone-based interactive voice to predict any unusual changes, including body weight, blood glucose reading, and temperature reading, among other vital signs. Such changes assist in predicting the disease if worsening, hospitalization, and even deaths (Serper & Volk, 2018).
Apart from the above tangible benefits, there are other intangible benefits, including faster illness management and reduced anxiety. When a patient is diagnosed with an illness, they may face stress related to hospital visits, medication side effects, among others. With telemedicine, a couple of such concerns are eliminated and hence reduced anxiety. Heston (2018) argues that easier access to the healthcare provider offers the patient a chance to seek clarification about the disease and medication. When at ease, there is a likelihood of a patient’s quick recovery. Gogia et al. (2019) also associate telemedicine with faster disease management since patients can easily access healthcare providers.
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Apart from the patient’s benefits when it comes to telemedicine, healthcare providers are also benefiting from the same. Through its use, the providers are decreasing the number of missed appointments and reducing the waiting time among other workloads. As Heston (2018) adds, telemedicine has also proved a good education platform where healthcare providers can teach their patients on various topics. For instance, for people with depression, the healthcare provider may educate them on better ways of managing the disease. Telemedicine is also known to reduce readmissions, and it also improves medication adherence. Since there is constant communication between the healthcare provider and the patient, the healthcare provider may take the chance and emphasize the benefits of medicine adherence (Gogia et al., 2020). Besides, governments should reinforce telemedicine since its modality improves the patient’s outcomes.
With the rigorous aging population and increased chronic diseases, there is an increased need for healthcare access. Telemedicine usage continues to grow in uptake and exhibit tremendous changes towards enhancing access to healthcare services as well as disease management. From the above analysis, it is evident that telemedicine saves the patient’s money and time, quickens disease management, improves the patient’s outcome, and reduces anxiety, among other benefits. It is not only aimed at meeting the needs of healthcare consumers, but it will also revolutionize healthcare delivery. Telemedicine also supports efforts to improve healthcare quality by increasing not only healthcare accessibility but also its efficiency.
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Dawson, J., Tulu, B & Horan, T. (2009). The Role of E-Health in Enabling Patient Access to Health Information, IGI Global.
Gogia, S., Novaes, M., Basu, A., Gogia, K., & Gogia, S. (2020). Fundamentals of Telemedicine and Telehealth. London, United Kingdom: Academic Press.
Heston, T. (2018). E-health: Making health care smarter. London, United Kingdom: IntechOpen.
Kruse, C., Krowski, N., Rodriguez, B., Tran, L., Vela, J., & Brooks, M. (2017). Telehealth and Patient Satisfaction: A Systematic Review and Narrative Analysis. BMJ Open, 7(8), e016242. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2017-016242
Serper, M., & Volk, M. (2018). Current and Future Applications of Telemedicine to Optimize the Delivery of Care in Chronic Liver Disease. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 16(2), 157-161.e8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cgh.2017.10.004