Medically reviewed on February 24, 2023 by Karen L. Janson, MS, MD. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Telehealth services are on the rise.
Over the last decade, healthcare providers progressively incorporated remote medical services into their service offerings. However, the COVID-19 pandemic certainly accelerated the adoption of telehealth, making it an essential tool for both patients and providers alike.
In 2019, there were 840,000 Medicare telehealth visits. In 2020, there were 52,700,000 . In less than a year, telehealth evolved from a specialized benefit to an indispensable medical service.
Why is that, and what are the benefits of telehealth for patients?
Together we’ll explore five reasons why telehealth service is slated to play a vital role in the future of medical care delivery.
Telemedicine services provide an array of healthcare services—including primary care, follow-up care, mental health care, and specialist care—to patients from the convenience of their homes. How does telehealth work? It basically allows you to receive care from a healthcare professional without having to see them in person. As Harvard Health notes, routine medical activities can be provided via several communication technologies, including :
Instead of waiting for the patient to come to them, virtual services bring the healthcare professional directly to the patient’s door. This helps ensure that a patient who needs to see a medical specialist can do so, and fast. Plus, it addresses an all-too-common problem where patients don’t see a healthcare professional until their condition has seriously worsened.
Telemedicine could make healthcare services more accessible to patients who:
It also offers extended service hours to access a medical provider. Increased accessibility to care providers such as this could lead to improved patient engagement and patient outcomes.
Even if access isn’t a problem for a patient per se, convenience might be.
A trip to your local medical center takes time and energy. A patient may need to wait for weeks before they can be seen by their healthcare provider, which is less than ideal for an impending medical issue.
But with telehealth services, a patient can receive care or request a prescription from another medical expert in the comfort of their home—all without having to travel to the care facility or request time off.
For example, let’s say a patient periodically experiences blepharitis—a relatively minor, though annoying, eye condition that causes eyelid redness, swelling, irritation, and itchiness. They’re familiar with this ailment, they feel it coming on, and know they’ll need medicated eye drops to mitigate the discomfort. Rather than trying to find a time to squeeze into their healthcare provider’s busy schedule, they instead can speak to a medical expert online that same day who may be able to immediately put in the prescription request.
In most cases, a telehealth solution allows patients to receive the high-quality medical care they need—without ever leaving the privacy of their home.
Even if a patient has high-quality health insurance, an in-person visit can be costly. Out-of-pocket costs are often a barrier to medical care that can discourage patients from seeking medical attention until their condition reaches a point where it’s absolutely necessary.
Fortunately, telemedicine costs are typically less than in-person exams, especially compared to the cost of hospital emergency departments . In some cases, it may be an entirely free service that’s bundled into your care provision. For routine visits or quick requests like the example above, telemedicine can save patients money, even as they receive more care than ever before.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing patients to see healthcare providers remotely helped prevent the unnecessary spread of infection, particularly if a patient was symptomatic. Thanks to telehealth services, patients can still receive care without putting healthcare providers, staff, or other patients at risk. Going forward, this will be a valuable tool that could protect people from exposure to pathogens for illnesses like influenza.
While your individual condition may benefit from some degree of in-person care, telehealth services can also include in-home monitoring tools that chart a patient’s symptoms and response to care over time. This enables medical professionals to keep tabs on their patients and predict, prevent, or respond to a health emergency.
Telehealth service is transforming the healthcare industry, making care more affordable, more accessible, and more convenient than ever before. As technology continues to progress, it will likely only become more integral to standard care provision.
Are you looking for fast, easy telehealth visits?
You’ve come to the patient portal. At Everlywell, we offer access to affordable, comprehensive telehealth consultations. You can tap into a large network of licensed healthcare providers in all 50 states, and receive high-quality evaluations, one-time prescriptions, and recommendations—all through a convenient video portal.
If you’re ready to see a healthcare provider, schedule your virtual visit today.