The evolving phenomenon of telehealth has been welcomed with open arms by some, and completely rejected as a viable health option for others. Some of the benefits telehealth provides are clear, with online services capable of providing a cost-effective and time-efficient way for patients, especially in rural areas, to receive treatment. On the other hand, many laws and regulations have long restricted telehealth from rapid expansion, with some arguing the patient-doctor “in-person” relationship is a must for proper treatment.
Telehealth Hits a Breakthrough
One of the major roadblocks telehealth had been experiencing was breaking through the regulatory requirements of states like Texas, Arkansas, Alaska, and Louisiana. Over the last few weeks, a new, modernized legislative effort is passing through these states to allow for a relationship through telemedicine . While some of these changes still require finalization, the strides made towards pushing through these barriers will have a significant effect towards the digital healthcare evolution.
Doctor and Patient Benefits
The innovation of digital healthcare comes at a time where providers are rewarded for improving patients’ health under Obamacare. Telehealth offers healthcare providers an opportunity to expand its coverage, all while centralizing care and reducing administrative work. This allows providers to offer more services at lower costs and even allows for doctor’s to make better recommendations to their patient’s by easily consulting with specialty doctors in other locations.
On the other end of the spectrum, telehealth provides patients with a lower cost and more convenient way to get treatment. With healthcare prices rising year after year, patients are looking for innovative ways to get affordable care. Additionally, many people find it difficult to take the time to go see a healthcare professional in-person, whether it be a long distance travel, inability to take time off of work, wait times in the doctor’s office, or any other number of reasons. Programs like telemedicine can offer treatment for patients with common illnesses like a cough or cold and the telemental health effort has begun expanding rapidly to provide specialized services for mental health.
New Skills Needed
The digital healthcare revolution comes with new tools and devices that doctors and healthcare professionals will need to utilize for successful telehealth implementation. New technology includes everything from fitness trackers to complex simulators to prepare for real world situations. Healthcare professionals will need to be ready and willing to communicate with their patients using a number of tools including smartphones, tablets, and computers.
Telehealth’s expansion will continue in the next few years as it continues to overcome dated regulatory requirements and more people will begin to get the quality treatment they need. “Technology will eventually replace about 80 percent of what doctors do now,” says Stephen Klasko, MD, and CEO at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
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