5 Ways Telehealth Makes Life Easier For Patients + Providers
For decades, telehealth (also referred to as telemedicine) platforms have made it possible for physicians to care for patients in remote areas using computer-based “health portals.” But in an increasingly technology-saturated, time-starved world, digital health platforms are no longer just for rural patients—they’re an expected addition to physician face time. Here are five ways technology is changing the face of medicine.
1. Improved Access. In our on-demand world, patients are no longer content to wait six weeks for an appointment—they want the same access to their health care professionals that they have to their Facebook feed: 24/7. Telehealth portals are now making that possible, with expanded call/chat centers, private patient/clinician messaging, and in some cases, FaceTime appointments with actual physicians.
2. Time Savings. Americans spend 2.4 billion hours making doctor visits every year—time researchers say is worth a whopping $52 billion. Even worse, less than 20% of the time we spend on physician appointments is actually spent with the doctor; the rest is travel and waiting-room time. In other words: pure hassle.
By offering its patients 10-to-15-minute “virtual visits” (via phone) along with a private messaging portal, Kaiser Permanente of Northern California has cut its in-person visits by 50%. For minor health problems that can be diagnosed over the phone, like 80% of dermatology cases, telehealth is the better choice.
3. Improved Outcomes. But isn’t virtual healthcare somehow a less complete, more impersonal experience? Researchers don’t think so. A 2015 review of telehealth outcomes found that some kinds of patients, like diabetics, had better outcomes with virtual visits than with in-person care. Other groups, like cardiac, substance abuse and mental health patients, had outcomes that were consistent with in-person visits.
4. Lower Costs. While telehealth services won’t be the right solution for all medical conditions, a recent study of senior patients revealed that 38% of in-person visits (including 27% of ER visits) could have been prevented with telemedicine offerings. Not only do fewer brick-and-mortar appointments add up to a massive cost savings for both doctors and patients—they also help make care accessible to a wider range of patients by opening up the schedule.
5. More Rewards. Now that you can message your doctor at midnight—why not reap even MORE healthy rewards? As a Carepoynt member, you can earn Poynts for many kinds of interactions with your doctor (both in person and virtual), then redeem those Poynts for ALL kinds of healthy choices, from kale smoothies to spa treatments or even medical costs associated with your doctor visits! You can also earn and redeem Poynts with our three Telehealth partners—HealthTap, 365 Doc and TelewellnessMD.
Even better: As a Carepoynt member, it’s easy to manage your Poynts, find out about special partner offers, and put together customized CarePlans to help you meet your own goals or to work with plans from your health care providers.