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Telehealth: The future of patient relationship management

Perry Price, XXX

Perry Price, Founder and President, Revation Systems

In recent years consumer focus seems to have increasingly turned toward business models and technology that improve or add to everyday conveniences, including online shopping as a way to quickly complete errands without facing traffic or in-store lines – and even while watching a favorite TV show.

Though it has become simple to buy eggs and milk from a smartphone app and have it delivered a couple of hours later, accomplishing other tasks, such as seeing a doctor for a follow-up appointment, have not been as conveniently realized. That is, until recently – thanks to an increase in secure telehealth solutions and a rise in their deployment across the healthcare industry.  

The Federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) defines telehealth as “the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical healthcare, patient and professional health-related education, public health, and health administration” – and it’s now helping patients become more engaged and proactive about their healthcare in the convenience of their own homes.

This trend is not only making it more convenient for patients to schedule appointments and communicate with their providers, but is also changing the level of engagement with which patients pursue their healthcare routines. For example, the flexibility of being able to communicate directly with a doctor for medication management or general health maintenance without having to travel to and from a doctor’s office can often make the patient experience more involved and personal on a day-to-day basis – because it’s so simple.

The impact of secure telehealth solutions

Though secure telehealth solutions have a strong influence on many aspects of healthcare’s future, perhaps the greatest benefit lies in the promotion of a patient-centered healthcare model.

As noted by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, telehealth can improve many patient-centered services, including:

  • Patient-provider communications
  • Patient self-management with provider feedback
  • Health literacy
  • Medication management
  • Provider-provider consultants
  • Changes in health and lifestyle behavior

The ability to communicate with doctors and providers through a variety of modes that are familiar and convenient also allows patients to become more literate and involved in their own care, since patients learn more about their health through self-management and frequent feedback from their providers; which might be less frequent if it depended on making trips to the clinic to be seen by a doctor in person.

For patients with chronic health conditions, this can be especially true when travel may be an impediment to care. Through the use of remote patient monitoring (RPM) and video follow-ups/consultations, they can remain engaged in their progress, as well as potentially avoid a readmission to the hospital.

This focus on patient-centered care is what’s connecting the telehealth trend to a higher degree of patient engagement — and it is already making an impact.

An easier way to manage patient-doctor relationships

Looking ahead, secure telehealth solutions may be the future of managing patient-doctor relationships since they enhance both patient outcomes and patient satisfaction. Perhaps the most significant way that telehealth represents the future of managing patient-doctor relationships is through the use of video consultations.

By using secure telehealth solutions to conduct appointments via video, patients can maintain a high level of face-to-face interaction with their providers while eliminating the hassle and time of traveling to and from frequent appointments. Video visit solutions are specifically ideal for patients who do not live near their preferred providers or need to consult specialists that are not local.

Another benefit of telehealth expansion in managing patient-doctor relations is the increased ability to use home medical devices, such as blood pressure cuffs and pulse oximeters. Properly employing these tools can remove the need for patients to be seen at a clinic since their use only requires communication of those stats to a physician — which can be done via video, phone or email. Use of such technology encourages patient-doctor communications to be facilitated through secure telehealth solutions, which are convenient and efficient for both parties and help to strengthen the patient’s engagement in his or her own health monitoring.

Adopting secure telehealth solutions for the future

Secure telehealth solutions are already starting to become a part of managing the patient-doctor relationship – a part that will only become more integral as deployment expands and technological barriers decrease.  

With the adoption of technologies such as WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication), for example, barriers that once faced telehealth solutions – including application download and account creation – are beginning to disappear, and communicating with a doctor over video is becoming as easy as visiting a webpage.

With simplified technologies making video engagement as convenient and accessible as online grocery shopping, managing your healthcare needs is becoming “just a click away” and secure telehealth solutions are ready to revolutionize the patient-doctor relationship.

 

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