Telemedicine has eliminated a great number of limitations that have affected the healthcare industry. Doctors have historically endeavored to cross the borders of the world so that medicine can reach all of humanity. Reducing healthcare costs right here in the United States is certainly an achievement that aligns with such a goal. In more ways than one, medical professionals have telemedicine to thank for this. Let’s have a look.
Before telemedicine, a small healthcare facility would not have full access to a pathologist or radiologist. The need simply didn’t justify it. With remote analysis, those very same specialties can now be provided around the clock. The smaller facility has access to the same quality care as any other. It dips into the same pool but it costs less than it would have when such highly paid professionals would have had to be onsite.
Proximity is everything. The 21st century has seen the major media outlets of the previous century reduced to a single pocket-size device. This fact alone renders access to said outlets affordable to the average American. Now consider the expensive monitoring technology you see during a hospital visit: blood pressure monitors, EKG machines, etc. Prior to the advent of telemedicine, access to this technology meant one expensive hospital readmission every time. By placing these capabilities closer to patients while leaving the means to review vital signs in the hands of the professionals, inpatient admissions are reduced and so is the inherent cost.
So much of the amazing work done by nurses and nurse’s aides can be observed. Yet, so much of what they do requires a closer look. Computer stations now exist in nursing home wings and healthcare professionals can be found entering what may seem like mundane data: height measurements, weight measurements, heart rate and more. However, it is that very same daily input that can avert a crisis. An increase in body weight might mean fluid retention which, in turn, could lead to a heart attack. The routine collection and sharing of this information has only been made possible by telemedicine.
Anyone who has had the misfortune of visiting the Emergency Room has also had the misfortune of receiving the exorbitant bill that follows. Imagine the potential costs just one medium-sized nursing home can face with its senior population. Telemedicine brings the ER to the patient. The very same team of nurse and primary care physician can be made available via televisits.
Even lower intensity scenarios benefit from telemedicine. If a loved one still lives home and is yet to require placement in an elder care facility, doctor appointments are still going to be very much a reality. Once again, life before telemedicine meant greater cost to the healthcare system because a patient’s availability was an issue. Telemedicine enables a healthcare provider to make every appointment count. Availability is not an issue because a patient that doesn’t have to leave the house has less of an excuse to miss appointments. Revenue for providers has increased as a result.