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Kristin Hill

The Rise of Telemedicine

The healthcare industry is booming, but it isn’t always an area that partners may think of when it comes to delivering unified communications (UC) and security solutions. However, as healthcare providers continue to look for ways to cut costs without sacrificing quality of care, many have decided to invest in telemedicine, a revolutionary way to remotely diagnose and treat patients. While it won’t ever replace the necessity of some in-person doctor visits, it can boost efficiency and outcomes for both the provider and the patient.

Lower Costs to the Provider

From the perspective of the provider, one of the greatest benefits of telemedicine is lowered costs. Whether it’s a nursing home, a hospital or an elementary school, the ability to provide remote examinations offers tremendous savings. This means having to pay fewer, if any, full-time staff, and instead only paying for the care that is required.

Moreover, when people have the option to utilize telemedicine, fewer people visit urgent care or emergency departments. A study published by Telemedicine and e-Health Journal found that without telemedicine services, 27.9% of patients would have visited an emergency department. For this reason, the study estimated that the use of telemedicine saved the Florida healthcare system an estimated $113.9 million.

These savings allow facilities like hospitals to reinvest in their people and equipment, or they can pass the savings along to the patients – giving the facility a competitive advantage in an increasingly expensive industry.

Elevated Patient Care

One of the greatest challenges faced by hospitals is providing patients with immediate, dedicated support, at all times. That’s because nurses at a hospital, for example, must monitor the health of every patient – an incredibly time-intensive and challenging task for any hospital. However, by incorporating telemedicine, nurses can prioritize the patients who are in the most critical conditions, while letting off-site nurses monitor the vital signs and progress of healthier patients. In doing so, hospitals can improve the outcomes of their more at-risk patients without compromising on the satisfaction and health of their other patients.

Another way in which telemedicine can improve patient care is by creating a community, when appropriate. There has been a significant rise in prominence of remote therapy and counseling. Therapists can work with patients via phone, video chat or instant messenger to help with grief counseling, PTSD and any number of other issues a patient may want to talk about. If the patient is willing, the therapist can even recommend online support groups where like-minded people going through similar issues can find support, vastly improving outcomes and creating long-term, sustainable support systems.

Improved Patient Experience

Telemedicine also improves the overall patient experience. Take an urgent care provider, for example - not only are they handling fractured bones and burns, but they may also be treating a child with a persistent cough in the middle of the night. Telemedicine allows the sick child to stay in the comfort of his or her home – saving their parents a trip to the doctor’s office – while the more time-sensitive, critical injuries are prioritized. In both instances, the overall patient experience is improved by funneling them to the best resource.

This same ability can also revolutionize geriatric care. By providing greater access to care to elderly patients who struggle with mobility or transportation issues, older generations can get the care they need regardless of their means. This also decreases the risk of an injury by traveling to see a physician, which can be especially helpful for assisted living facilities where having an on-site nurse or physician isn’t financially feasible, and frequent in-person check-ups require significant resources.

Of course, all of these opportunities require confidentiality, secure communications and compliance with HIPAA regulations. In order to maintain the same standards offered by in-person hospital visits, partners will have to demonstrate that their solutions won’t compromise security. With this in mind, the benefits and practical implications of telemedicine are vast. ScanSource is well-positioned as a trusted advisor to help our partners demonstrate the value of telemedicine to healthcare providers. Whether it’s our Customer Configuration Center, our regular trainings, or our dedicated sales and technical support representatives, we’re ready to help you revolutionize the healthcare industry.