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What are the Advantages of Telehealth for Patients?

So far this year, health systems have been faced with the challenge of transitioning to a model that better supports virtual healthcare.

 


 

As the need for telehealth appointments continues to rise, it’s important to understand the positive impact that the wide adoption of telehealth has on patients. 

 

From increased scheduling flexibility to erasing the barriers of distance, here are a few of the major advantages of telehealth for patients:

Increased flexibility
Increased access for rural communities
Increased access for at-risk patients
Increased access to specialists

 

 

1. Increased Flexibility

 

Let’s face it -- being an active participant in the management of your health takes time. From scheduling the appointment and shifting your calendar to actually showing up to the doctor’s office, the amount of time it can take to maintain a regular cadence with a doctor is simply a luxury that not everyone has.

 

One advantage of telehealth is that it increases flexibility for patients whose schedules conflict with their ability to visit a doctor. Being able to access care from the comfort of home is an advantage for many patients whose busy schedules make it difficult to keep up with routine appointments. 

 

What can make telehealth even more flexible for patients is when health systems partner with a telehealth and/or telemedicine solution that is device-agnostic, meaning patients may access the appointment across any device. This enables patients who may not have access to a computer but do have access to a video-capable mobile device to still be able to communicate effectively with their doctor.

 

2. Increased Access for Rural Communities

 

Roughly 1 in 5 Americans (60 million people) live in what are considered to be rural areas in the United States. For those living in rural or isolated areas, making regular visits to a far-away doctor’s office can be a hindering factor in access to care. Studies show that there are roughly 13 physicians available for every 10,000 people in rural areas -- urban areas have roughly 31 physicians available per 10,000 people.

 

Eliminating the barrier of travel for those in rural or isolated communities, as well as patients who might have limited-mobility, increases accessibility to care. This increased accessibility presents the opportunity for patients to have a more involved role in their health by reducing the barrier of distance.


Additionally, patients who need immediate assistance and are unable to transport themselves to a hospital or health care provider are able to benefit from the adoption of telehealth services.

 

3. Increased Access for At-Risk Patients

 

For many patients, visiting a doctor’s office or a hospital might put their health at greater risk. Telehealth and telemedicine services make it possible for them to access care from the safety of their own homes, cutting down potential risks for exposure to illness or infection. 

 

For example: it is estimated that there will be 1.8 million new cancer diagnoses in 2020. 

 

For patients undergoing chemotherapy, regular visits to their primary care physician might put them at a higher risk for adverse health issues. Enabling them to be able to dial into a virtual appointment from home decreases their exposure to germs, infection, and other patients whose illnesses might put the immunocompromised chemotherapy patient at risk. 

 

With the ability to access routine appointments from home, patients with autoimmune disorders or other immunocompromised patients have the ability to receive treatment from the safety of their homes.

 

4. Increased Access to Specialists

 

Patients who are seeking the advice of a specialist or who might require specialized care may not have access to the resources they need within a reasonable distance. In rural areas, the ratio of specialists per 100,000 people is 30 compared to that of urban areas, which have an average of 263 specialists. 


The increase in adoption of telehealth and telemedicine erases the barriers of travel and enables patients to communicate with specialists who might be hundreds of miles away. The elimination of travel also reduces the burden of expenses; as rural Americans are more likely to live below the poverty line, reducing the necessity of travel can greatly improve a rural patient’s access to care.

 

Key Takeaway

As telehealth and telemedicine become more commonplace in modern healthcare, patients are going to experience increased access to care across the board. In addition, regulatory entities are making swift adjustments to keep up with the rapidly changing landscape of healthcare. 

 

The most important thing healthcare providers can do is to partner with a telehealth / telemedicine provider whose solution is accessible, reliable, and efficient. Additionally, partnering with a solution that prioritizes access to language services will ensure that all of your patients have equal access to care, no matter what language they speak.

 

In keeping the focus on patient-centered care and increased access, health systems will be able to ensure health equity during the transition to telehealth and telemedicine platforms. 


 

Looking for a Partner to Increase Language Access?

GLOBO’s powerful language services platform, GLOBO HQ™, combines technology, data and qualified linguists to provide you with the language services your health system needs. Schedule a time to learn how you can improve language access with unified language services as your system moves toward patient-centered care.

 

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