Telehealth technologies is becoming rapidly more popular and prevalent in today’s medical field. While there are many different types of telemedicine some of the most prominent are in psychology, psychiatry, and therapy. It involves everything from videoconferencing, scheduling, and document storage to facilitate patient-provider services. While many people may prefer the comfort and personal nature of meeting with their healthcare provider face-to-face, here are 3 benefits of telemedicine this innovative approach provides healthcare.
1.) Convenience: What it lacks in personal familiarity telehealth technologies makes up for in its convenience. Telemedicine video conferencing allows patients to see the professional services they need without leaving the comfort of their home. One 18 month study found that a higher proportion of telepsychiatry appointments were kept as opposed to in-person appointments (92% to 87%). It makes sense that a person would be more apt to follow through with an appointment in this manner as there is less potential for something to go wrong in route (car trouble, wrong address) and easier to plan your day around (no travel time etc.)
2.) Growth: Where there is growth, there is the potential to get even better. Telehealth and telemedicine is projected to grow to $1.9 billion in revenue by 2018 ($240 million in 2013). According to the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) there are currently about 200 telemedicine networks in the U.S. As these numbers continue to grow so to will the services and potential to do more things by way of new telehealth technologies.
3.) Success: In terms of tangible success rates there are two studies that show a positive relationship between telehealth technologies and patients. In one on telepsychiatry patients were much mroe likely to not cancel or no-show their appointments. The rate went down 1.3% for cancellations and 3.6% for no-shows. Overall that means more people being treated for potentially serious conditions. The other study showed an increase in retention rates for online therapy patients. Patients studied averaged 6 appointments and 73% retained the same clinician each time.
While there are certainly some areas telehealth technologies can’t compete with traditional healthcare services, overall it is an advancing and promising field that offers great potential for the future. The full advantages of telemedicine are still yet to be discovered, but for now it is a valid and potentially very useful way for people to receive many of their medical needs.