Bang in the middle of a healthcare crisis, the COVID 19 pandemic has taught us many lessons. The healthcare sector has witnessed a struggling case of strain, and social distancing has become the new normal. With this calamity, virtual reality has emerged as the need of the hour. Innovation opportunities in the healthcare space have taken on priority. A recent Frost and Sullivan study has projected a surge in growth opportunities within the sector. In particular, Telehealth is now emerging as the way forward. With solutions that are scalable, meticulous, and offer a virtual environment, the telehealth branch of healthcare is poised to address the needs of the current healthcare environment. As more than half of U.S. hospitals have adopted telehealth and with a global valuation of 20% annual growth in telemedicine, healthcare organizations need to, quite literally, get with the program. Telehealth adoption will ensure a pathway into the future of healthcare.
Benefits of Telehealth in Crisis like COVID19
Adoption of telemedicine software solutions offers the following advantages:
- Improved patient outcomes with reduced costs
- Reduced burden on medical staff
- Minimized spread of infection
- Population risk assessment through predictive analysis
- Continual monitoring of patients through remote accessibility
- Increased patient empowerment, engagement, and education
- Remote monitoring to reduce hospital readmissions
- Increased efficiency of clinical staff
- Increased care coordination
- Reduced hospital stays
- Reduced death rate
- Reduction in emergency visits
7 Telehealth Innovations Inspired by COVID Crisis
1. The Rise of Hospital-at-Home Model
The hospital-at-home model is a caregiving solution, empowered with telehealth technologies and automated innovations. The telehealth solution hospital-at-home model offers a comprehensive approach toward operations that allows for population health management and additional patient engagement. With other services to motivate patients toward healthier choices and technologies to enhance labor efficiency, a holistically improvised approach is established.
The features of the program include:
- Telehealth Critical Care – Through the adoption of automated services for data visualization and decision support tools, ICUs can successfully reduce the length of patient stay and increase mortality rates. An advanced telehealth solution with a proactive model works toward reducing the burden on physicians and nurses by automating clinical processes.
- Telehealth Surgical Units – The need for increased efficiency in surgical units has been a long-standing requirement, and telehealth software platforms allow for telehealth-based analysis of patient health in the surgical units through audio-visual access to patient rooms, and other innovations that will reduce readmission, and increase patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes.
- Telehealth Consultation Services – These consultation services are empowered to be offered virtually and minimize travel time for patients while providing easier accessibility to physicians through telehealth software platforms.
- Telehealth Chronic Patient Services – This is a service for chronic patients that connects a care team to the patient through integrated telehealth solutions with personalized treatment plans and in-home patient monitoring. Readmission causes are identified, addressed, and subsequently reduced.
2. Combining Telehealth with Patient Monitoring
This program is the essential accessibility that allows patients to easily engage with their physician and other clinicians through virtual enablement for continual caregiving through integrated telehealth solutions. Patient accessibility is enhanced through remote patient monitoring solutions telehealth embedded on their personal devices. Furthermore, mobile health solutions can be deployed in offices, nursing homes, rural clinics, schools, etc. This diminishes healthcare access hurdles, such as physical commutes, appointment hassles, etc., through video conferencing services on mobiles, tablets, and other devices.
Remote patient monitoring telehealth through HIPAA compliant telemedicine solutions is at a pivotal point, wherein the care provider can monitor and gauge the patient’s health from a virtual purview. It also empowers the patient to take their health in their own hands. Physiological characteristics and regular updates of vitals can be progressively tracked for timely assistance. The care providers can intervene in urgent cases through advanced technological remote patient monitoring telehealth solutions.
Other features include:
- Care transition patient and family engagement
- Personalized monitoring for chronic conditions
- Continual access to virtual care through personal devices
- Patient education and social support
- Automated medication reminders and trackers of intake
- Home-based care for senior citizens
3. Point-to-Point Connections To Increase Health Access:
This is a branch of HIPAA compliant telemedicine solutions that establishes a 2 point connection. Usually, this connection is between a more significant, urban healthcare organization and a smaller, usually remote, health center or clinic. The smaller healthcare facility is provided with increased facilities through its association with the larger entity. From specialist caregiving to advanced technologies, the latter is able to offer improved services through this connection.
Generally deployed through high-speed internet connectivity, urgent care facilities are further enhanced, along with radiology and other departmental advantages. A common practice is to establish network programs that offer this connection between larger hospitals and smaller clinics. In the U.S., there are currently over 200 such programs that have assisted the elevation of over 3000 clinics in remote areas. Patient’s access to health in these remote areas is dynamically increased through such connections.
4. Real-time Ultrasound Teleconferencing
As the world of telemedicine is expanding across multiple healthcare organizations, there are several new and distinguished care services that are being developed on this platform. OSP offers an innovative way to offer remote diagnoses and provide interactive care. This is a real-time ultrasound facility that can be conducted through teleconferencing. In essence, this allows experts to access ultrasound exams from anywhere at any time.
This facility serves as a significant boon for rural facilities that have limited capacity by enhancing their quality of care without the need to transport the patient physically. This significantly reduces delays and expenditure, thereby increasing patient satisfaction. Furthermore, this solution offers an integrated approach that enhances collaboration between clinicians through smart devices for live interactions. Both the clinicians involved can view the ultrasound image, engage in probe positioning, and interact while doing the same.
5. mHealth – Telehealth platforms
This platform offers a holistic solution that is accessible to anyone everywhere. It is a web-based service that can be deployed on mHealth applications that allow physicians to connect with their patients remotely and in a comprehensive manner. Patients’ medical information is gathered, stored, and processed for efficient caregiving. The patient’s data is then used meaningfully to make caregiving as accessible as possible, while also empowering the patient to take charge of their own health.
Through this platform, physicians can connect their patients to specialists for virtual diagnosis and treatment plans. Moreover, patients can request for virtual appointments and consultations, while ensuring their own medical history privacy. There are telemedicine pharmacy solutions with options to chat, text, or video call your physician, along with follow-up sessions, online prescriptions, medication alerts, etc.
6. Live and Interactive Telehealth
An interactive solution that offers innovative approaches toward patient education and engagement can go a long way in improving the positive outcomes of healthcare facilities. The platform’s live and interactive features allow for the improvement of critical metrics that rely on patient satisfaction and quality outcomes with increased reimbursements. Distinct features of the solution include:
- Continual education and information to patients and associated family
- Clinical services, virtually offered, for treatment and recovery
- Enhanced experiences for patients through comprehensive information offering
- Discharge planning information
- Comprehensive planning and treatment plans
- Automated workflows and documentation through EHR
- Interoperability for holistic caregiving
- Simplified workflows
- Advanced customization of treatment plans
The platform allows continual and on-demand interaction between the patient and the physician in real-time. Other accessible avenues are social media and online communication platforms. This branch of telemedicine is well-suited toward nonurgent care, such as psychiatry. Telepsychiatry is an innovative way to hold interactive sessions in real-time. Telemedicine pharmacy solutions can be further deployed to provide prescription access and monitoring.
7. Telehealth + Patient Portals
The current COVID 19 pandemic has created a unique telehealth form that works with patient portals to create a comprehensive record for holistic and accurate diagnoses through real-time telehealth solutions. This novel experiment is geared toward raising a new concept called Open Notes. Generally, medical staff is expected to fill in patient information upon arrival at the facility. However, this new method allows for combinatory support that involves pre and post notes by the patient and providers alike. Patient portals are, therefore, a great tool towards faster and more accurate diagnosis.
During the current crisis, real-time telehealth solutions have displayed the ability to slow the transmission of the virus by maintaining social distance and keeping at-risk people away from healthcare facilities, where they are likely to contract the virus. It, furthermore, has proven to provide regular care to patients from their own homes efficiently. Elderly patients and those with chronic illnesses have significantly benefited from the virtual features offered through remote patient monitoring solutions. This innovation will continue to develop into multiple avenues of medicine, such as psychiatry, dermatology, ophthalmology, etc.