Digitization of healthcare is a reality today. The industry is evolving at a fast pace and disrupting care delivery and accessibility around the world. Digital technologies have facilitated and improved healthcare in remote and isolated locations. In places struggling with the scarcity of infrastructure and resources, health-tech allows access to specialized services.
However, the revolution doesn’t stop here. Advanced, futuristic technologies are breaking the barriers in more ways than one. To consider a few examples, implanted medical devices help save lives. Wearable medical gadgets track your health status. Artificial intelligence allows providers to tap into insights from existing patient populations to forecast the risk of medical conditions in individuals. Likewise, predictive health IT analytics help providers identify patient groups with certain behavior patterns, for example, those who do not show up for appointments. Such data can then be banked upon to take steps to ensure high patient attendance from sending reminders via multiple channels to offering transport.
Key advantages of digital healthcare innovation
Digital healthcare allows patients to overcome spatial and time challenges. Patients residing in areas where there are no specialists or super-specialists need not travel long distances. In the same way, those facing lack of time or suffering from serious conditions need not take the inconvenience of visiting a doctor at the clinic. Video-powered telecommunication is a viable option for such patients and for those in rural areas lacking quality healthcare.
Better health outcomes:
Digital technologies can work wonders in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of health disorders. Electronic health records (EHRs), for example, enable direct access to patient medical and prescription history to allow better treatment decisions at the point of care. Digital prescriptions minimize medical errors, reminders increase adherence to appointments and e-pharmacies with home delivery facility ensure patients never run out of medicines.
Digital healthcare doesn’t mean suppression of the human element in healthcare. In fact, automation and data has left the medical community in a position to focus more on and spend more time with patients. In some instances, health tech also brings providers and patients closer in one-on-one face-to-face or screen-to-screen interactions via telecommunication tools
Better patient engagement:
Digital healthcare has patients at the center stage throughout the care journey. Patients have direct access to their appointment schedule, medical records, prescriptions and lab reports. Further, they can contact doctors round-the-clock via telecommunication channels for consultations or follow-ups. Healthcare content is shared by doctors and health queries clarified by patients through portals and apps. Likewise, patients can report symptoms, book health tests and packages and search for doctors, clinics or hospitals in their vicinity using digital healthcare platforms.
Other than the above mentioned advantages, a certain digital healthcare trend that is gaining momentum significantly in the current situation is telemedicine. Teleconsultation allows providers and patients to get in touch with each other through virtual mediums of communication, including video, phone, emails or chat.
Telemedicine benefits for providers
Telemedicine enables medical facilities to provide virtual care. This increases their geographical penetration into far-off locations and they can target new patient groups. During times of health crisis, natural disasters or other emergency situations, telemedicine comes as a savior to patients and health workers who need to seek and provide care respectively. Yet, they are apprehensive about exposure to infections or other problems. So, telemedicine helps stabilize the income of physicians during emergency situations by ensuring continual care delivery.
Expands patient base:
Telemedicine enables reachability to a wide variety of patient groups, including the elderly, child, chronic and physically isolated patients. It allows facilities to increase their patient volume by overcoming distance barriers and taking healthcare to their doorstep.
Chronic care delivery:
Chronic patients require regular consultations with doctors and telemedicine offers them a convenient way to achieve this. They need not travel every time to the provider and can save their time and money that is consumed in traveling
Supports flexible work schedule:
Physicians can provide care anytime, anywhere if they have a telemedicine apparatus at home. At less investment or low overhead expenses, telemedicine allows medical practitioners to set up a work-from-home chamber from where they can deliver care 24/7.
De-stresses healthcare system:
Public healthcare system is strained during pandemics and emphasis is laid on better utilization of medical resources. In such scenarios, telemedicine allows diverting non-emergency cases to online channels leaving the frontline health workers to tackle only emergency cases. Medical staff, equipment, specialists and infrastructure can be deployed optimally to contain an outbreak and save lives.
Telemedicine benefits for patients
Telemedicine eliminates the need to physically travel to a doctor’s chamber. There’s also no wait time or getting stranded in long queues at the front desk. As per WHO, provider-to-provider telemedicine reduces the time for patients to access quality and coordinated care. Various specialists in a care team can consult each other about a patient’s condition and course of treatment.
Busy schedules make it mandatory for some patients to consult doctors as per their own convenience. Then there are certain patient groups, such as the elderly, children or individuals with chronic or serious diseases who would prefer not to travel every time for a body check-up or a consultation. Telemedicine fills the gap here by reducing dependability on in-person visits.
Patients have multiple options to access care remotely, including video, phone, chat or email if they opt for telemedicine services. They can choose the medium of communication that they prefer without compromising on the quality of care delivery.
Telemedicine enables access to specialized care in the remotest of locations that lack well-established medical facilities. Hospitals or clinics in many parts of the world lack specialist or superspecialist physicians, proper medical infrastructure or equipment to treat patients. In such scenarios, patients can seek healthcare advice from experts via teleconsultation and need not physically travel. It also cuts back the need for non-emergency, unnecessary visits and thereby balances your healthcare budget.
Zero risk consultations:
By offering health workers and patients a contactless mode of consultation, telemedicine saves them from the potential risk of infections or other ailments amid outbreaks. It allows patients and doctors to contact each other from the safety and comfort of their home.
Telemedicine allows health workers to seek advice from more experienced specialists. It connects various points of care and physicians who may be located physically far off from one another. Eventually, this translates to better care outcomes and patient satisfaction. In times of health crisis, frontline workers in remote, isolated settings can seek high-level recommendations from specialized practitioners via teleconferences. Physicians can also share patient medical records and e-prescriptions via EHR/EMR systems to improve their coordinated care decisions.
Improved access to specialized services:
Patients in remote or rural locations no longer need to make do with lack of specialists and superspecialists or robust medical infrastructure in their vicinity. Telemedicine brings healthcare to your doorstep from top-rated, experienced doctors.
Digital healthcare is marching forward. The needs of enhancing treatment adherence and efficiency, optimizing business growth and costs, and improving communication between various stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem are fueling these technological innovations. Patient empowerment, value-based practice and quality of care over quantity of patients are the new priorities. With digitization, these goals are being met and healthier lifestyles being promoted.