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According to the National Health Council, 40 percent of the U.S. population suffers from a chronic disease, which is about 133 million Americans. Today, almost a third of the population is now living with not just one chronic condition, but two or three. Living with a serious illness can be very difficult and has only gotten more difficult because of the coronavirus pandemic. Luckily, most healthcare offices have adopted telehealth services, in order to connect with patients and remain socially distanced during this time.
Telehealth is powered by digital technologies to improve patient experience when it comes to healthcare. The development of telehealth allows patients the ability to access healthcare at their convenience through telecommunications technologies. The idea has been around for decades, and it has been established throughout many healthcare practices, varying from primary care to specialists. Through telehealth, it’s possible for patients to easily access their healthcare providers and address their needs from home with the click of a button.
Better Access to Care
Due to COVID-19, it’s more difficult to have an in-person doctor’s appointment than it was before. Patients with serious illnesses have to be very careful during this time, as the coronavirus could cause significant complications to their health.
Telehealth offers benefits to these people because it allows them to contact their healthcare providers from the safety of their homes. This technology can increase their access to specialized care because they will spend less time waiting for appointments and experience fewer scheduling conflicts due to travel and work schedules. Telehealth opens up an opportunity for patients to see doctors as frequently as possible.
Better Patient Monitoring
Patients living with serious illnesses may be expected to change their daily health habits to improve their condition. This could include changes in medication, getting frequent exams, better diet and exercise, or cutting out harmful substances like cigarettes and alcohol. It can be difficult for patients to make certain lifestyle changes at the drop of a hat, so providers will likely schedule regular check-ins with them to make sure they follow through.
Telehealth appointments make monitoring patients easier than ever because healthcare providers can monitor them remotely, which cuts down on the number of in-office appointments a patient has and increases the patient’s chances of recovery.
Patients can use mobile devices to video chat with providers and discuss their improvement, and can even use mobile apps to help improve their health. There are apps like Lose It!, which can help patients meet their weight loss goals by tracking their food intake and exercise progress. There are also apps that offer digital exams, like the Prescription Check app by Warby Parker. This app allows an eye doctor to evaluate a patient’s vision through an online eye exam, assess how a patient is seeing through their current pair of glasses, and renew their glasses prescription if needed. Using apps like these can help patients improve serious health conditions like heart disease, certain kinds of cancer, or diabetic eye disease.
Assess Changes in Real-Time
Patients that suffer from serious illnesses will have good days and bad days. Throughout their treatment, they might develop certain symptoms that could be a result of the illness itself or the medication they are taking. Some patients have been known to put off calling their provider for an appointment until their condition changes drastically, especially if they have a long commute to the office or have seen their doctor recently.
Telehealth can change this tendency because patients can quickly schedule a virtual appointment to determine the root and severity of their recently developed symptoms. Through the virtual appointment, the provider can determine if a patient needs to make more drastic lifestyle changes or adjust their medication. Telehealth has made it much easier for patients with serious illnesses to stay in contact with their healthcare provider or address health issues online, which could help to improve patients’ conditions faster than ever before.