With the increase in destructive unnatural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and forest fires, communities need to be more prepared for the aftermath with affordable healthcare. Telehealth is a real-time solution that facilitates the provision of healthcare using internet and intranet technologies.

Despite being an inexact science, telehealth still has components that offer robust solutions. The government plans to expand broadband, healthcare, and telehealth, making it the opportune time to develop telehealth and broadband-driven disaster recovery strategies.

Typically, natural disasters have three phases:

  • Unpredictable initial impact
  • Immediate aftershocks
  • Recovery

Telehealth can impact these natural disaster phases in the following ways:

Creating emergency health centers

Often, natural disasters can cause a power outage for a week or more. Advisably, before a disaster, various buildings need to be designated as telehealth and generator zones. The required equipment and telehealth kiosks would be ready for any recovery phase. These would be useful for people without access to power, the internet, or destroyed homes.

Expanding first responder’s reach

In the face of a disaster, first responders tend to receive a considerable share of immediate medical responses. They are equipped to reach out to clinics and hospitals to manage injuries. Paramedic vehicles need to be wirelessly enabled to facilitate patient treatment while heading to the hospital. The cars also need to be fitted with telemedicine tools to expand medical capabilities and healthcare to underserved and unreachable populations.

A broadband foundation

Natural disasters can destroy homes and buildings, making telehealth challenging to access. A community’s broadband network significantly impacts the technology’s ability to get through a disaster and quickly get back online. The broadband network needs to be designed to have less downtime even during a disaster. Telehealth stakeholders need to work with communities and cities to set up broadband that facilitates telehealth and disaster response.

In a nutshell, when properly implemented, telehealth can revolutionize how we prepare for and recover from disasters. It will help reduce mortality rates and improve access to general healthcare.

In 2021, Rock Health conducted an annual consumer adoption survey to track the prevalent modalities and telehealth user satisfaction. Accordingly, the survey depicted that urban dwellers, high-income earners, and people between 18 to 40 years were more likely to use telemedicine than the rest of the population.

Although telehealth should be accessible equally across the board, its adoption has remained skewed to recent findings. While the COVID-19 reshaped telehealth preference, the following population cohort were the most prolific users:

  • The young population comprising individuals from ages 18 to 44
  • People with a minimum income of $ 150,000
  • Adults with a history of chronic conditions

The 2021 Digital Health Consumer Adoption Survey that involved at least 8,000 U.S. adults showed that the least consumers of telehealth and people with no experience in telehealth include the following:

  • Adult above the age of 55
  • People with an average annual income of $ 35,000 and below
  • People living in the U.S. rural areas
  • Uninsured people
  • U.S. citizen taking no prescriptions

Although most primary healthcare providers in rural areas have introduced telehealth in 2020 and 2021, statistics show that 40% of rural respondents did use telehealth at all. Besides, 28% of the consumer of telehealth used the service for the first time. As a result, location remains pivotal in skewing telehealth access in the U.S. For example, 9% of rural respondents in the 2021 survey indicated that broadband and cellular connectivity remained the top barrier to telemedicine access.

Rock health survey also depicted that fewer men were likely to use telehealth compared to their female counterparts, a finding that contradicts the 2020 survey results. Besides, Non-white respondents such as Latinos, American Indians, Blacks, and Pacific Islanders used telehealth more than white respondents. This finding aligns with the 2020 Pew study that found Latinos and blacks use telehealth more than white respondents mainly because of health disparities.

Skew Towards Video Visits Preference

Rock Health survey indicates that 51% of the respondents preferred video telemedicine compared to other telehealth modalities. Unfortunately, video visit satisfaction rates declined between 2020 and 2021. The authors indicate that the latter is due to the shift in expectations around the purpose of telehealth. In 2020, the respondent believed telehealth as an alternative to in-person visits rather than a replacement to patient care in 2021. Virtual care assumed a new dimension, with the video visits increasing during the pandemic.

With the increasing accessibility to online health care, it is becoming increasingly easy for people to choose a different option from traditional healthcare providers. The shift towards online healthcare is also reducing the holiday fuss.

There are many benefits to choosing a digital practitioner over a traditional one.

Availability of Health Care in Remote Areas

If you’re going to be away from your home for this holiday season, make sure you have access to the internet. 

Patients can quickly get help with any medical problem they might be facing when visiting a doctor online. Even in a remote location, you can still contact your doctor by phone, text, or video chat.

Telemedicine services such as Ourdoctor allows users to talk to a healthcare professional from anywhere in the world.

Medical Help From Doctors During Travel

Telemedicine, the use of online services to provide healthcare needs, is an efficient way for people with seasonal illnesses or injuries to receive timely care.

Using online medical help is a good idea. A doctor can provide specialty care in your home via telemedicine reducing the need for physically visiting a doctors office.

Your doctor can give you advice when you are not physically in the office. You can consult with them via phone or text while remaining at home.

Prompt and Consistent Health Treatment

Telehealth provides the opportunity to interact with doctors and view images of conditions in real-time, which leads to better treatment outcomes for all involved.

Telemedicine is an innovation in healthcare offering access to medical services without taking up much time from your day.

You can get advice from a doctor on-demand using a telemedicine website such as Ourdoctor. Doctors can treat symptoms promptly and timely.

Online health care and medical services reduce reliance on traditional medical providers during the holidays.

Having access to telehealth technology has made it possible for doctors to work remotely with their patients, leading to more efficient care. Telehealth is also helping those who can’t travel due to living in remote areas or being too ill and can’t make it into a doctor’s office.

While telehealth is an affordable way for people to manage their healthcare needs, there are some things you should know before you use this option.

Is Telehealth the Future of Medicine?

The pandemic revealed the need for telehealth and a shift away from brick-and-mortar healthcare. It is an innovative and essential solution to the rising COVID-19 pandemic that has brought the rise of telehealth to the public eye.

The future of healthcare is rapidly becoming digital. Patients can use their mobile devices to schedule appointments with their physicians and healthcare professionals, complete health assessments, and view other important information online.

Healthcare providers are constantly looking for ways to limit the influx of patients while keeping them safe and healthy. Telehealth helps many people do this by allowing them to receive care in the comfort of their own homes.

The convenience, cost-effectiveness, and patient satisfaction associated with telehealth make it an ideal tool for many providers.

Orthopedic Option in Telehealth

Did you know that fractures, falls, and other bone damages are the leading causes of hospitalization? Hospitals may save money by providing orthopedic telehealth.

Telehealth can be a good option for those with an orthopedic issue that requires treatment.

Orthopedic Problems Using Telehealth

You may benefit from telehealth for orthopedics when you want to avoid a trip to the clinic or if you are looking for some minor problems that don’t need immediate attention.

These situations include:

  • Dealing with minor joint pain from arthritis;
  • They can also cause pain in the neck or sciatica;
  • Sprains, strains, and back pain are common issues for many people;
  • You may have to check with your doctor after minor, uncomplicated surgeries.

Did you know that the top reasons for hospital admissions are falls, fractures, and other bone trauma? By offering telehealth for orthopedics, hospitals can reduce admissions and stay within their budgets.

While telemedicine can grow dramatically over the next decade and help healthcare professionals, it still offers specific technical and practical challenges. For a long time, telemedicine has been centered on technology.
Furthermore, combining various technologies may result in massive data flows that are neither useful nor easy to manage (e.g., continuous monitoring of temperature and blood pressure) Certain constraints may impede the adoption, deployment, and scaling up of telemedicine and related technologies. It will take considerable training to guarantee that patients are comfortable with video teleconsultations and the usage of assistive technologies. Additionally, physicians require subspecialty-specific technological, clinical, and communication training. Moreover, access to broadband and Internet facilities is a significant barrier to telemedicine deployment in rural and under-resourced settings.

Telehealth requires stable broadband access, which is not always feasible for remote clinics and patients. When telemedicine technology is used, legal limits and a lack of clarity about what is permissible are possible, and these restrictions encourage telemedicine providers to exercise prudence. Certain conditions are not covered under health system legislation.

When adopting technologies and procedures to close gaps in the healthcare system, it is critical to question whether the gaps exist and establish the standards and goals of care and iterate toward these standards and ideals. Telemedical consultations fall short of the fidelity that an in-person physical exam provides in physical examinations, body language, verbal intonation, and scents. The commitment of the technology used in telemedical consultations must be constantly improved to achieve the same level of fidelity and information as an in-person visit.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world’s outlook on telehealth, telemedicine, and virtual health care. According to the American Hospital Association, telehealth visits have increased by 38% of their pre-COVID levels.

While these levels are at an all-time high, there is still growth expected as virtual health visits take the place of in-person care. Research shows that more than half of US hospitals began using telemedicine to respond to quarantine and mandatory lockdown during the pandemic.

Healthcare providers say conditions that benefit from telehealth monitoring include chronic physical and mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and neurological disorders.

How Telehealth Visits Work

Telehealth visits are like in-person clinical visits, with one significant difference, instead of meeting in person. Doctors and patients connect via a virtual video chat room and talk to each other face-to-face. Patients link to a doctor using telehealth platforms such as Ourdoctor, during telehealth visits using an internet-connected device.

New Technology Investments in Telehealth

Hospitals and health care providers worldwide are looking at updating patient portals to make it easier for doctors and patients to connect. Telehealth visits are available on smartphones, desktops, laptops, and tablets.

Self-Service Health Care Options

Patients who can connect to their providers via video visit are less likely to miss their appointments due to time constraints or traffic issues. Using self-service health care options saves providers and patients time and money on travel time and potentially lost visits.

Remote Patient Monitoring

Significant investments are also made in remote patient monitoring software and technology. Some forward-thinking hospitals, doctor’s offices, and clinics can monitor patient vital signs like heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels via connected sensors.

Healthcare App Development

Significant investments are happening in customized platforms such as Ourdoctor telehealth services, which are developing as doctors, hospitals, and other medical professionals realize telemedicine’s value.

Did you know that modern technology can make skin cancer treatment more effective, convenient, and less time-consuming? Amongst all cancer diseases, skin cancer is the most widely spread in the United States. Telehealth involves utilizing digital information technologies such as mobile devices, computers, and tablets to access and provide quality health care. Below are the reasons why telehealth skin cancer treatment is vital.

Follow Up Appointments

After your in-person treatment, your doctor or nurse may decide to schedule a virtual appointment. That involves communicating with them via online video conferencing. Your physician can get information about your health, prescribe medications, or recommend homecare-based strategies following your surgical appointment. Scheduling your appointments online saves time and money.

To Help Detect Problems Early

Several web-based and home monitoring apps allow your doctor or nurse to monitor your health progress remotely. Other wearable devices can transmit vital signs such as blood pressure, temperature, tremors, sleep patterns, blood sugar, and lung functioning. If your doctor finds any deviations from the normal, they can pre-plan for early treatment and medication.

Informative Appointments

Sometimes, you may have questions, fears, or concerns prompting the need for clarification from your health care practitioner. Since these educational appointments do not require an in-person visit, your doctor or nurse can offer it virtually. Whether changes regarding your skin, general physical concerns, or mental well-being, your doctor is just a video call away.

Bottom Line

While telehealth skin cancer screenings and treatments are becoming popular, they should never replace the regular skincare routine checkups but complement the in-person visits. However, virtual health care is crucial in its own right. Your doctor or nurse may detect problems that you may not have been aware of. Telehealth for skin cancer can determine new skin growths, sores, or lesions on the skin early on. It’s a welcome treatment mode in the modern era where the Covid-19 pandemic makes visiting the doctor’s office a challenge!

The healthcare system in the United States is notoriously complex and multifaceted. While the U.S. boasts cutting-edge medical technology and many of the world’s best and brightest physicians and professionals, access to these scientific advances and life-saving resources remains firmly behind a stratified paywall.

At this point, the average American lives paycheck to paycheck and would not afford an emergency expense, including an unforeseen medical cost. Millions of Americans are uninsured or underinsured, and even those who do receive significant coverage often struggle to afford medications, specialists, even routine appointments.

This alone would be enough to create a crisis, but this lack of access is compounded by existing inequality. In other words, those who are already marginalized and socially disadvantaged are hit the hardest by this lack of access.
There has been an ongoing national debate about addressing the various aspects of the U.S. healthcare system, which have been the most inefficient and harmful. While there is, of course, hope to be found in that discourse, the on-the-ground emergency nonetheless persists. Thus, more immediately implementable means of closing the access gap are being continually explored. One such means, which has exploded in use throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, is the use of Telehealth, or virtual care.

Telehealth is not perfect, and it does not come without barriers in its own right. For example, low-income individuals who do not own a computer or laptop may not find Telehealth a viable alternative to in-person appointments. Older adults who aren’t comfortable navigating computer and webcam use may also struggle.

That considered, however, for a significant number of individuals, Telehealth tangibly closes the access gap. Those who live in rural areas, which may or may not even have a local physician, typically find virtual care extremely helpful, even life-saving. The same can be said for those living with disabilities, particularly disabilities, which would make an in-person commute difficult. Overall, Telehealth is less costly and less confined to the 9-to-5 schedule, increasing patients’ ability to utilize services.

Healthcare is essential. All forms of care—emergency, long-term, preventative, and more—all play a role in public health: healing and helping people, saving and improving lives. Increasing healthcare accessibility is an issue of both social welfare and public health. The sooner it is addressed, all Americans will receive the healthcare they deserve regardless of socioeconomic status.

The increasingly widespread use of virtual care may not be a comprehensive, one-and-done solution for closing the access gap; however, it is a means of tangibly chipping away at it, changing healthcare—and lives—in the process.

During the pandemic, telephone and video medical visits became the norm for many providers. A recent study in The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that New York State safety net providers had positive experiences using telehealth with their patients during the past year. However, the researchers noted that although remote visits made it easier for patients to complete appointments, it also exposed the lack of access at-need populations they serve have to the technology necessary for telemedicine visits.

Why it’s important

The providers surveyed in the study found the telemedicine visits to be as effective as in-person visits and had the added benefit of reducing no-shows. It also made attending appointments for vulnerable populations and those with busy schedules easier and more accessible.

Of course, not all appointments could be conducted virtually. Patients requiring vaccinations needed in-person care, and certain types of appointments, such as well-child visits, were less effective when provided remotely. It was also difficult for some patients to use the technical tools necessary to attend telemedicine visits.

The providers surveyed did have suggestions for improving telehealth visits that could help to alleviate some of these pain points. They suggested developing more user-friendly platforms, providing funding for organizations to make the adjustments needed for telemedicine, and working towards universal broadband and enhanced Wifi capabilities.

Other current studies

The rise of telehealth during the pandemic has provided researchers with a plethora of information about telemedicine’s benefits and drawbacks. A study from the University of Missouri looked at how the rapid increase in telemedicine affected nursing home residents. They found that while it increased access to services, it led to increased social isolation.

Future Studies

The researchers suggest that future research should focus on supporting communication between providers and patients. They also propose assessing the type of care preferred by both providers and patients to determine the best method of care to provide.

The modern world has had a shift in how people access medical care during the Covid-19 pandemic. That’s because interpersonal consultations and doctor visits came to a complete halt. Telehealth has become a popular means through which people can access healthcare remotely. One such medical practice area is telecardiology that treats heat-related illnesses.

Telecardiology Defined

Telecardiology isn’t a new concept. Cardiologists have long utilized different forms of technology to treat patients with heart-related issues. Telecardiology refers to remotely interpreting electrocardiographic recordings via technology such as video conferencing. For instance, technology helps doctors to check pacemakers or transmit patient data remotely. That helps manage a patient’s heart condition effectively.

Advanced medical technology has contributed to the growth of telecardiology. Medical technology includes keeping records of cardiac images in digital formats. These formats allow hospital staff to send data to centralized sites where cardiovascular specialists interpret the information using artificial intelligence.

Rather than eliminate the need for in-person treatment, telecardiology is a welcome supplementary treatment for primary care. Moreover, it helps cut hospital visits and in-patient care. Besides, you have the freedom to seek treatment from the comfort of your home or office.

Are There Any Concerns?

As much as telehealth is successful, it doesn’t offer a perfect treatment scenario. Doctors are still trying to figure these things out:

  • The appropriate timeline to see a patient by teleconference rather than in-person
  • How to blend telecardiology with in-person visits or in-patient care
  • How to handle teleconference visits for new patients when there’s no previous relationship
  • The implications of patients communicating with other cardiovascular disease healthcare providers
  • Insurance reimbursements for telecardiology visit fees

Telecardiology is a step in the right direction in the cardiology world, but there’s still a long way to go. Luckily, there’s a bright light at the end of the tunnel. It all starts with developing a solid plan for the best patient care. The future of telemedicine looks better with each passing day and advancements in technology.