With the changing medical landscape, patient-centered care is becoming more important than ever. Implementing truly patient-centered telehealth requires a solution that considers language access.
If you’re considering investing in implementing or optimizing your telehealth solution, read on to learn how the thoughtful application of telehealth can improve health outcomes, reduce readmission rates, and improve patient satisfaction.
Healthcare is an expensive necessity and not everyone is able to afford insurance or qualify for subsidized care. This means that people forego healthcare when they desperately need it, ultimately putting them further into medical debt. Even patients that do have health insurance may avoid needed doctor visits due to their high co-pays or lacking coverage.
Typically, telehealth visits are less expensive to provide which makes them less expensive to the end-user. Because of the reduced cost, people who need care (regardless of insurance coverage) are far more likely to utilize this technology.
When patients are able to take an active role in their health without major financial barriers, they are less likely to succumb to illness/disease or injury. This may also mean that they can avoid the problems associated with chronic illness by using preventative measures suggested by their care provider.
Patients living in rural areas often cannot find needed healthcare close to home and have to drive several miles for any type of health service. Typically when people in remote areas have questions, concerns, or other health-related issues, they opt to not receive care or wait until their next scheduled visit.
Opting to not receive care or waiting too long before seeking medical advice can lead to a patient’s condition worsening which may result in more costly medical bills due to the need for more in-depth care, the need for extended treatment, or hospitalization, or may cause irreversible damage to their body.
Because telehealth simply requires an internet connection and the proper software, patients have the ability to consult with a medical professional regardless of the time or day of the week. Additionally, if further help is needed, they can receive confirmation from their doctor and make their way to the nearest hospital without second-guessing if the visit is needed.
Many chronic illnesses require frequent doctor visits; as mentioned, these doctor visits can (and do) become quite costly; they also become a hassle for the patient due to travel time, time away from work/spent waiting, and the cost of transportation.
It is also worth mentioning that telehealth visits are a perfect alternative for patients with chronic illnesses that require continuous medication management. Given that medication management visits are relatively short, telehealth will prevent patients’ frustration from sitting in a waiting room which can also expose them to other sicknesses, exacerbating their condition.
Additionally, telehealth gives patients the ability to update doctors as-needed on their conditions, side effects of medicines, or any new occurrences. This ability allows you, as a healthcare professional to make quicker decisions that result in better care
Transportation is a major issue that arises when patients require medical care. Some cases may not be able to drive or have access to a car, others may not have access to public transportation or be able to afford more private forms of transit (cabs, rideshare).
Transportation issues often become so problematic that patients must reschedule or skip office visits altogether. Aside from creating a scheduling nightmare for your team, it can be detrimental to the patient’s health and may ultimately cause the need for expensive long-term hospitalization.
Because a medical visit can take place in the comfort of a patient’s home, transportation is no longer an issue. Should the need arise for an in-person visit, the patient can prepare as needed and understand why an in-office meeting is required.
Given that transportation is a major barrier to healthcare access and the ability to make appointments on time (or at all), telehealth is an important technology that will allow this issue to be one of the past!
One of the benefits of telehealth is the fact that it is an on-demand service. Patients can speak with a doctor, nurse, or another medical professional at any time, day or night, without having to make a costly trip to the emergency room.
While a patient might not be able to see his or her preferred provider, it is possible for them to voice questions or concerns about their ongoing health issues with someone who is qualified to give advice.
For instance, if a patient were to have an accident in the middle of the night and are unsure of whether they need medical attention, they can simply log onto their telehealth portal for the proper medical advice. The patient may still require an in-person visit with a health practitioner, but they won’t have the worry of whether or not the visit is warranted.
Because patients are not required to make the excursion to your office, sit in crowded waiting areas, and come into contact with a number of people, their chances of becoming sick (or sicker) is lowered. Due to the fact that patients will come into contact with far fewer people, their chances of being hospitalized from infections or complications from the aforementioned potential sickness is also decreased.
Additionally, because people will actually seek out medical help when they need it, the chances of their conditions worsening to the point of needing hospitalization are significantly lowered. Again, this goes back to the barriers of cost and transportation, as well as the fact that services are on-demand, with little to no waiting required.
Some patients may feel that it is impossible to make appointments with the specialist they need to see. This could be for a number of reasons including costs or the distance that must be traveled from their home. It could also be due to the limited availability of the specialist closest to them.
Telehealth makes it possible for a patient to speak with a specialist across the country or even on the other side of the world. Appointments are easy to make and keep due to the fact that a patient won’t have to request time away from work or try to arrange for childcare.
Because the pool of specialists is widened due to the lack of distance barriers, the number of specialist doctors appears to increase. Obviously, there is no increase in doctors, but instead, a larger selection given that distance is no longer a factor, and patients can access the needed care across the globe.
Due to the benefits listed above, patients will likely come to trust their healthcare professionals far more than they would a doctor that they only see once per year. This comes from the ability to see and speak with a doctor and their staff on an as-needed basis without the fear of financial burdens and long wait times.
This trust will allow the patient to be completely honest with the doctor regarding the more intimate details of their lives which may mean a speedier and more accurate diagnosis leading to better care. It also can enable to patient to ask for help on difficult subjects like addiction, mental illness, abuse, or sexual matters.
When a patient trusts their doctor, they will be more likely to follow any given instructions with regards to medication; the patient will also be more inclined to follow up with any specialists that are suggested by their primary physician, which could mean a better diagnosis and more individualized care.
On the other hand, a doctor that comes to know their patient better can help them make more informed decisions about their health and well-being, identify any underlying issues, and help the patient identify areas of their life that may be affecting their condition.
In addition to the benefits of telehealth listed above, you will find that using technology in your office will allow you to reach people that otherwise may never have service. This is in part, due to the fact that telehealth works well with translation services to help providers speak with patients who may not understand English.
Hopefully, you’ve been able to see that telehealth offers a range of benefits to patients, mainly in the form of lowered barriers to previously prohibitive access and will consider the use of this type of technology in your own practice.
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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