In today’s digital age, providing healthcare online is becoming more and more popular. This form of healthcare is known as telemedicine and is a way that doctors can provide treatment without even leaving the comfort of their homes.
That makes it ideal for rural healthcare organizations and hospitals. Instead of having to reimburse their staff for travel time or risk losing customers due to wait times, they can simply use telemedicine.
So, how does telemedicine work and why is it important? Keep reading to find the answers!
What Is Telemedicine?
Before we dive into talking about how telemedicine works, let’s take a second to go over the telemedicine definition.
Telemedicine is essentially a way for patients to communicate with healthcare providers virtually. They use technology to speak with a physician rather than visit a hospital or doctor’s office.
Telemedicine allows patients to talk about their medical issues and symptoms using email, chat services, phone calls, and video conferences. During these virtual visits, patients learn about their treatment options. They also get a diagnosis and receive a prescription for medication.
Telemedicine is typically split into three main categories:
- Live or interactive medicine: a system that allows patients to communicate with a doctor in real-time.
- Remote patient monitoring: a system that lets physicians monitor patients remotely using mobile equipment.
- Store and forward: a system that allows physicians to store and share patient information with other doctors and specialists.
All of these methods fall under the umbrella of telemedicine. They can either be provided by private telemedicine companies or through insurance programs or local doctors and hospitals.
How Does Telemedicine Work?
Now that you have a clear idea of what telemedicine is, let’s dive into how it actually works.
For starters, it’s important to understand that telemedicine is not appropriate for every healthcare issue. Any emergency situation that requires immediate attention should always be taken care of in a hospital or urgent care facility.
However, telemedicine can be a great option for more minor situations. This could be to get a prescription refill or handle minor physical and mental diseases. Typically, telemedicine is handled in one of two ways: through a patient portal or through virtual appointments.
Patient portals are a common form of telemedicine. Patient portals are set up using a secure password and username that are individualized to each patient.
Patient portals are the ideal option for rural healthcare organizations because they let your staff provide patient information quickly. And, it saves you money on paper and mailing costs to reach patients who live far away.
The platform will also show a patient’s key medical data such as lab results and imaging tests. Patient portals are a much faster option than calling a patient to communicate lab results or approve quick refills. They make communication with your patients much faster and more straightforward.
Another common way telemedicine works are through virtual appointments. Virtual appointments are typically completed through phone or video calls or via chat.
These meetings can often be conducted with mental health and urgent care physicians as well. That means it can be easier to provide medication and/or treatment than it would be if patients visited your office.
Telemedicine vs Telehealth
Many people get confused about the difference between telemedicine and telehealth. After all, the two terms seem very similar!
It’s important to remember, however, that there is a difference between these two terms. Telemedicine is described as being healed from a distance, meaning patients can receive treatment without having to visit a physical office.
In contrast, telehealth solutions are the process of using technology to support long-distance care, health education, and health administration. In other words, it’s a way of improving patient and physician care and education. It is a much broader area than telemedicine.
What Are the Benefits of Telemedicine?
Telemedicine is a great choice for patients because it provides them with numerous benefits. These benefits are some of the reasons why it’s a growing field.
For one, providers can schedule patient appointments from outside the office. They are no longer required to be physically present in a healthcare organization in order to provide services.
This is an excellent choice for businesses that spend money and time communicating with clients via paper mail. With digital communication, you can reduce the amount of money you spend on these types of services.
Secondly, telemedicine is often much cheaper than in-person medical care. Businesses can save huge amounts of money by offering services that don’t require in-office staff.
Not only can you save money on your staffing, but you can save money on additional benefits and operational costs such as travel reimbursements. By saving that money, you are able to put it toward other business needs.
Boost Staff Productivity
Since virtual services make it less likely that patients will miss appointments, you’re able to save your staff a huge amount of time on lost appointments. This, in turn, gives your team more time to focus on other important aspects of running your organization.
Staff training programs take up a large amount of time. They can cost your company huge sums of money just to get your staff up to speed on new procedures.
With virtual telemedicine, however, you can conduct remote training sessions. This saves your healthcare organization a huge amount of money on overhead costs that would be required for standard in-office training.
Get Started With Telemedicine
Telemedicine is one way that providers can help patients take care of their health. It’s an option that can save businesses money and can boost revenue for the organization.
Now that you have the answer to “how does telemedicine work” you know why it’s such a growing part of our healthcare industry.
Are you interested in getting started with your own telemedicine program? Get in touch with us today and we’ll give you all the details you need to sign up!