Telemedicine is the future of medicine, and for many patients in rural areas, the future is now. According to the American Telemedicine Association, over half of U.S. hospitals use telemedicine to help diagnose, treat, and care for patients.
Although telemedicine is still in the early stages, this is not a new medical specialty. In fact, telemedicine has been around for over 40 years, beginning with hospitals extending care to patients in rural areas and underdeveloped countries. Since then, telemedicine has been integrated into private offices, specialty departments, patient’s homes, and even the workplace.
Why Use Telemedicine?
- Cost Effective: As the cost of health insurance rises, patients are looking for alternative means of care, and for many, this means telemedicine, so that patients can be under the best care possible for the lowest cost to them.
- Access to specialists: Many patients cannot get to the proper medical facility, and if there is a facility nearby, that place doesn’t have the specialist they need on staff.
- More funding and patients: Healthcare providers have made telemedicine a top priority, which means there will be additional funding put towards technology.
- Professional recognition: Your name and practice can be known nationwide, and with online reviews carrying more weight than ever before, it’s great to get testimonials from patients across the country.
Telemedicine includes a growing variety of applications and services using two-way video, email, smart phones, wireless tools and other forms of telecommunications technology. Using medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications, telemedicine is now being used to improve a patient’s clinical health status.
How to Improve Patient Engagement
- Figure out what motivates your patients to follow up
Is it a newsletter outlining healthcare consequences or a postcard explaining wellness benefits?
- Study what patients respond to
Do patients respond better to instructional videos on your website, or would they rather have access to their physicians via a mobile app?
- Ask questions
It never hurts to ask your patients what would be most helpful to them. Empower your patients to play an active role in their care, and engagement will naturally improve
- Understand technologies
In order for telemedicine to be effective, physicians must first understand how telemedicine works and learn to adapt to new methods of diagnosing and treating patients.