With the cost of healthcare continually rising, telehealth technology is one way healthcare providers are able to provide cost-effective quality care. According to an article in Health Management Technology, 90 percent of healthcare leaders report they are developing some types of telehealth offerings and 87 percent of providers use mobile devices in their workplace for communications, access to information sources, and to run clinical software applications.
As telehealth grows in popularity, and wireless capabilities through mobile technology expand, remote access to patient information, providers, and patient monitoring tools becomes more readily available. The convergence of these technologies, known as mobile telehealth, allows physicians to practice medicine and treat patients in essentially any location.
How Telehealth Benefits from Mobile Technology
Many areas of specialized medicine can benefit by mobilizing telehealth services. For example, telestroke now has programs that can integrate image-viewing capabilities into a mobile device. This enables stroke experts to offer consults and make diagnoses quicker and without having to remain at a fixed location.
Another example is telepharmacy. Through mobile devices, pharmacists can connect with customers to answer medication questions during and after pharmacy hours. They can also connect remotely to other pharmacists, such as specialty pharmacists, to ask questions about a drug they’re not familiar with. Pharmacists can also check in with high-risk patients or those on complicated medication regimens. By seeing vs. just speaking with the patient, they can tell whether a patient is benefitting from the meds and if a follow-up visit with a physician is needed.
In the ICU, telemedicine is being used to fill the gaps in intensivist coverage and enable monitoring of more patients without extra staffing costs. Physicians are able to monitor patients 24/7 remotely and decrease response time for emergencies.
While any hospital or health system could implement telehealth technologies and the specialized offshoots, these services bring particular value to rural hospitals by providing leading clinical expertise when local resources may not be available. With faster access to patient information, images, and insights, telehealth services support faster, more accurate diagnoses and quicker treatment that saves lives.
Here to Stay
Regardless of who is using it, it’s clear that mobile telehealth is changing the way physicians are practicing medicine and patients are benefitting. As healthcare institutions continue to look for ways to extend operating budgets while improving patient care, programs such as these will only grow in popularity. While the initial investment in technology can be daunting, new applications for this method of healthcare are being developed that will one day become the norm for most areas of healthcare.