According to medical experts in an article published in 2016, 65% of patients use telehealth. Since then, interest has only increased, and along with technological advancements, there are many possibilities for telehealth technology.
Here, we present five trends in telehealth websites and applications that are important to acknowledge. Before we move on, it is essential to understand the difference between telehealth and health apps that fall under the mHealth umbrella.
Healthcare applications, or known as mHealth, utilize mobile technologies that allow the consumer to directly interact with their medical data. As such, health applications are more concerned with consumers recording personal medical data.
Therefore, mHealth separates itself from telehealth. While the former is exclusive to mobile devices and is only for the patient's benefit, the latter utilizes a wide variety of technology. Additionally, telehealth doctors use telehealth to have appointments with patients, doctors conferencing with other professionals, or patients using telehealth technologies for themselves.
One of the best benefits of telehealth is having two-way interactions between a doctor and their patient online. There are only two pieces of technology required: cameras and a screen.
Video conferencing helps people who cannot travel to their doctor because they live far away or are physically incapable of attending an in-person doctor visit. Other people who benefit from video conferencing include people in rural areas, military personnel, and inmates.
For example, the Department of Corrections and the Medical University of South Carolina diagnose inmates remotely using high-quality cameras and monitors for doctor appointments. This helps the department save prison transportation costs since inmates can have a satisfying doctor's visit without leaving the prison.
Doctors using video conferencing for their own purposes
While telehealth is thought of as a common means of communication between doctors and their patients, doctors can also use video conferencing technology to communicate with colleagues or other experts.
Furthermore, suppose patients need access to a specialist who is not available in their hospital. In that case, they can use video conferencing to quickly schedule a meeting with a specialist that fits their needs.
The educational impact of telehealth
There are also numerous medical providers using video conferencing to organize educational programs for multiple attendees in multiple locations.
One of the best examples is Harvard's Safety, Quality, Informatics, and Leadership program (SQIL). This program combines in-person training with online lectures to create a new type of medical education for medical providers.
These are only a few ways to use video conferencing to its maximum benefit, for either a website or application. But if you are more curious about health apps' trends, please refer to our article detailing the best trends in the mobile medical market.
Another significant trend in telehealth is store-and-forward technology. Patient records can be stored and electronically transmitted to medical providers. These records can include x-rays, videos, MRIs, and text-based patient data.
This greatly benefits the patient. It means their wait times for specialty care will lessen, especially if they live in an area without specialists. The store-and-forward technology also overcomes cultural and language boundaries for patients who cannot speak a certain language.
Patients are not the only ones enjoying store-and-forward benefits since the process will make work easier on the doctors' part. Primary care providers and specialists can review any patient case regardless of where the patient is located. Furthermore, medical specialists can review patient records at their own convenience, giving them more freedom and time to do their best work.
One Store-and-forward example is eConsults, or otherwise known as electronic consultations. eConsult allows doctors to share patient information with each other in a safe and secure channel. The purpose of this program is to decrease any unnecessary specialty referrals since everything about the patient's medical history will be available on eConsult. Many health networks around the world already use eConsult, such as hospitals based in the UK.
Remote Patient Monitoring
One more trend for telehealth services is supporting remote patient monitoring (RPM). RPM uses digital technologies or applications that report and collect patient data to transmit the information to a primary care provider. The data includes heart rate, blood pressure, and electrocardiograms.
By having these remote health monitoring programs, doctors can notice irregularities that you otherwise might miss. In particular, older individuals and people with underlying mental health issues can live at home longer, if they so wish. They can also use their data and easily transmit it to their primary healthcare provider for quick and efficient care.
Many companies are incorporating remote patient monitoring telehealth into popular technology. For instance, Stanford conducted a study regarding the viability of Apple Watches detecting irregularities in the heart rate. This phenomenon, known as atrial fibrillation, can be detected by Apple Watches, which will help people who exhibit no physical symptoms of the health problem.
If you would like to learn even more about remote patient monitoring devices and apps, refer to our medical wearable technology article. We discuss in length the benefits for the user.
These trends are only the beginning of telehealth websites and applications. With people unable to leave their homes due to an unprecedented pandemic, telehealth has become an invaluable health awareness tool.
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