The goal of digital transformation in the U.S. healthcare system is to drive affordability and accessibility of care. Accelerating care organizations’ movement towards this goal, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it necessary for healthcare organizations to explore better ways of adopting virtual care. Telehealth and COVID-19 have risen together, bringing about a phenomenal shift towards a virtualized care response throughout the country. Studies estimate that the demand for telehealth will rise by 64.3% in the U.S. in 2020, and the telehealth market is estimated to grow seven-fold by 2025, leading to a five-year compound annual growth rate of 38.2%.
As it became essential for healthcare organizations to implement new protocols and operate within a critical time frame of information exchange, many providers settled for the commonly available telemedicine vendors for quick solutions to host online consultations with their patients. However, for long-term clinical and financial success, providers would need to select the right telehealth vendor and virtual care solution that goes beyond virtual visits to ensure sustained adoption to the platform, build a strong engagement with their patients, and allow them to grow their revenues from their virtual care practice.
A few months into the new normal of virtualized care delivery, organizations investing in a long-term solution for telehealth or telemedicine must carefully chart the telehealth versus telemedicine differences. So, are telehealth and telemedicine the same?
Telehealth covers the broad spectrum of electronic and telecommunications technologies and services used to provide care and services at-a-distance, including remote non-clinical services such as provider training, medical education, administrative meetings, et, al. It utilizes videoconferencing, remote monitoring, electronic consults and wireless communications to connect patients to vital health care services. It ensures that patients receive the right care, at the right place, at the right time with increased access to physicians and specialists.
Telemedicine, on the other hand, is a subgroup of telehealth, referring specifically to remote clinical services. Telemedicine uses electronic communications and software to provide clinical services to patients, replacing an in-person visit. It leverages secure video and audio connection to provide follow-up visits, medication management, chronic condition management, specialist consultation and other clinical services, remotely. Commonly, telemedicine companies offer televisits or free telemedicine tools on a trial basis across different care settings. While telemedicine covers hospitals for just virtual visits, long-term telehealth requirements would comprise virtual assessments, analytics, care coordination and patient engagement modules for sustainable virtual care delivery.
So, why is telehealth a good option for patient care? Telehealth is used to improve patient engagement with remote monitoring which expands the access to care and reaches a greater number of patients across geographies. It improves clinical workflows and increases practice efficiency. To understand how telehealth works and improves patient outcomes, it is important to analyze all key integrated features that care organizations can leverage to reduce practice overhead, cut down on care costs and improve overall healthcare quality for the patients.
Telehealth became important during COVID as social distancing and minimal human contact was strongly recommended to prevent the infection spread. As a result, many telehealth guidelines and regulations were instituted to encourage providers to use virtual care practice.
Initially, providers began practicing telehealth on phone calls, however, with time, it has evolved to cover a wide array of offerings. These days, telehealth visits are usually recorded to allow providers to revisit the appointments and reduce misconceptions or redundant questions among caregivers, families, and patients themselves. Telehealth versus in-person visits has some clear advantages such as increased provider attention, reduced waiting time, etc., for an enhanced patient-provider experience.
So will telehealth continue beyond the pandemic?
Telehealth is transforming healthcare and shaping the future of care delivery as organizations and patients are embracing it as a new channel to quality care while saving money. A wide spectrum of virtual care offerings unleashes the enormous potential of remote care, and telehealth continues to benefit patients and providers in a multitude of ways.
An ideal telehealth solution should assist providers in seamlessly managing virtual consults while meeting the long-term health enterprise requirements with enhanced remote care offerings, virtual channels, and revenue-guiding telehealth analytics. Telehealth services should empower providers and patients with simple and secure virtual assistance and telehealth features. The solution should fit into the clinician’s workflow and offer an uninterrupted virtual consultation experience for physicians. A future-ready telehealth solution must support complete interoperability and HIPAA-compliance for secure and connected care delivery.
If telehealth services are provided on a connected framework, they would also positively impact nursing with robust care management that could facilitate automation in scheduling telehealth appointments and follow-ups, enhancing overall productivity.
Check out Innovaccer’s 30-day free telehealth application to test the care capabilities and performance.
Innovaccer’s Virtual Care Solution disseminates helpful guides to address patients, identifying needs and social barriers. The solution simplifies triaging by prioritizing patient care based on symptom assessment. Through smart summaries and continuous data feeds on clinical insights, the solution assists care managers in synchronizing care. It also helps providers with comprehensive clinical documentation and novel point-of-care experience.
For large enterprises, it empowers providers to personalize the solution to their enterprise’s needs by managing access controls, personalizing their messaging, and providing them with robust, actionable insights to improve their clinical and financial outcomes. The solution comes equipped with an implementation playbook that is carefully designed to deliver successful adoption across the network of providers.