Our whole lives we are taught that in order to get adequate care we need to make that trip to a hospital or a clinic and have a long wait in the waiting room – all for approximately 15 minutes of the provider’s time. After such a visit, it is not uncommon that we ask ourselves – could I have saved myself a trip and took care of this at home?
The global pandemic brought a lot of uncertainties and difficulties into our everyday lives. However, we have to acknowledge that it also taught us a few things when it comes to healthcare.
One key takeaway is that, in a lot of cases, patients can be treated for a variety of conditions and illnesses from the comfort of their homes. Modern technologies have enabled ease of access to a variety of resources and tools. These tools allow patients to learn more about their conditions and improve their self-management skills. In addition, the majority of the U.S. population having access to smartphones and the internet enables telehealth tools that allow patients to conveniently connect with their providers remotely or share the data from their remote monitoring devices.
According to a patient satisfaction survey conducted by COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition, almost 80% of respondents who used telehealth during COVID-19 were satisfied. Over 78% said they felt their health concerns and conditions could be addressed via telehealth, while 70% expects to be able to access remote care after the pandemic.
Remote patient care might be a more affordable and cost-effective solution for frequent follow-ups and check-ins for patients with chronic conditions and at-home manageable illnesses like flu or cold. While the remote care option has the ability to impact many, it may have the biggest impact on underserved communities and help them achieve better outcomes by learning how to self-manage.
COVID forced us to think in a different direction and question everything we know about traditional healthcare. It made us reassess and create new criteria for patient categorization, particularly for home vs needs in-person care for chronic conditions. It has shown us the significance and power of remote patient care. Remote care should in no way completely replace in-person care – however, when leveraged properly, it can change the standards of care and reduce the number of unnecessary doctor visits. We are just at the beginning of the journey of telehealth and we are yet to understand its full potential and role in healthcare as we know it.