This week marks the start of the First Annual Telehealth Awareness Week. This landmark event, established by The American Telemedicine Association, underscores the prominent role that telehealth now plays in our healthcare system.
The purpose of Telehealth Awareness Week is to amplify the message that, “Telehealth is health,” and it is becoming a primary method to deliver care in an increasingly digital age.
There’s been a huge adoption of telehealth recently
The pandemic presented consumers with a challenge: to learn a new way of life. Even though consumer behavior had been shifting toward digital over the last decade, COVID-19 accelerated this shift dramatically. Consumers had already grown accustomed to receiving personalized entertainment using digital platforms like Netflix, or getting meals delivered by online/offline companies like DoorDash. No doubt, these offerings became more and more prevalent during the pandemic. It’s no surprise, then, that consumers have the same expectation for their healthcare.
Is telehealth the same as telemedicine?
The short answer is, they are closely related and oftentimes used interchangeably. Telehealth refers to the broader use of various technologies to deliver traditional and non-traditional clinical healthcare at a distance. Telemedicine, a more narrow type of telehealth, maps to three distinct delivery options, including:
- Asynchronous — also known as “store-and-forward”, this form of telemedicine allows patients to do things like complete online intake forms and questionnaires, or write messages with a doctor online.
- Remote patient monitoring (RPM) — which allows monitoring of patients outside of a conventional clinic setting, employs the use of remote sensors or devices to track vital signs, sleep patterns, and the like.
- Real-time telemedicine — or, “synchronous telemedicine” are video-based doctors’ appointments along with remote monitoring and diagnostics.
Today, asynchronous telemedicine has taken center stage. Unlike video-based solutions, asynchronous virtual care eliminates the need for a live interaction between doctor and patient, providing more flexibility. Telemedicine can be used to provide effective care for less serious problems or it can be used to supplement other methods of healthcare to improve the patient experience.
Although many patients and health executives are aware of the concept of asynchronous telemedicine, they may not be convinced that it works for them or that it improves their quality of care. While these concerns are understandable, the fact is that asynchronous telemedicine improves patient outcomes. Its benefits are many:
- Asynchronous telemedicine serves as a convenient and secure alternative to traditional procedures. It can address common concerns such as sexual health conditions, hair loss, weight loss, and skin conditions, effectively and discretely for both healthcare provider and patient.
- Asynchronous telemedicine, like telehealth more generally, addresses the increasing number of clinical shortages caused by the pandemic.
- Asynchronous technology allows for non-real-time communication between a patient and a provider, expanding access to care in rural communities where access can be challenging based on a patient’s geography.
As more and more companies embrace asynchronous telemedicine offerings, patients are realizing that healthcare is finally catching up to their expectations. Telemedicine personalizes the patient experience while also allowing doctors to deliver care in an efficient manner. While the unprecedented usage of remote care by providers continues to set records, this is just the beginning of a new era of care delivery. As telemedicine gains popularity, there are still a lot of challenges and unknowns that can only be addressed through more widespread adoption of the practice.
For more information on telehealth and telemedicine, feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow us @jctelemedicine.