Why are Telemedicine and Telehealth so Important in Our Healthcare System?
Telemedicine is emerging as a critical component of the healthcare crisis solution. Telemedicine holds the promise to significantly impact some of the most challenging problems of our current healthcare system: access to care, cost effective delivery, and distribution of limited providers. Telemedicine can change the current paradigm of care and allow for improved access and improved health outcomes in cost effective ways.
Telemedicine increases access to healthcare:
- Remote patients can more easily obtain clinical services.
- Remote hospitals can provide emergency and intensive care services.
- Telemedicine improves health outcomes:
- Patients diagnosed and treated earlier often have improved outcomes and less costly treatments.
- Patients with telemedicine supported ICU’s have substantially reduced mortality rates, reduced complications, and reduced hospital stays.
- Telemedicine reduces healthcare costs:
- Home monitoring programs can reduce high cost hospital visits.
- High cost patient transfers for stroke and other emergencies are reduced.
- Telemedicine assists in addressing shortages and misdistribution of healthcare providers:
- Specialists can serve more patients using telemedicine.
- Nursing shortages can be addressed using telemedicine.
- Telemedicine supports clinical education programs:
- Rural clinicians can more easily obtain continuing education.
- Rural clinicians can more easily consult with specialists.
- Telemedicine improves support for patients and families:
- Patients can stay in their local communities and, when hospitalized away from home, can keep in contact with family and friends.
- Many telehealth applications empower patients to play an active role in their healthcare.
- Telemedicine helps the environment:
- Reducing extended travel to obtain necessary care reduces the related carbon footprint.
- Telemedicine improves organizational productivity:
- Employees can avoid absences from work when telehealth services are available on site or when employees can remotely participate in consultations about family members.
- These examples illustrate the some improved outcomes and cost savings being achieved by telemedicine and telehealth programs:
- Home monitoring of chronic diseases is reducing hospital visits by as much as 50% by keeping patients stable through daily monitoring.
- The national average for re-admission to hospitals within 30 days following a heart failure episode is 20%. Telehealth monitoring programs have reduced that level to less than 4%.
- Timely provision of treatments that effectively reverse the consequences of a stroke have risen from 15% to 85% due to the availability of telestroke programs.
- Telemedicine support to Intensive Care Units (often called eICUs) is reducing mortality rates by 15 – 30% and substantially reducing complications and length of stay.
- Telemedicine retinopathy screening programs support early identification of serious eye disease and reduce the incidence of blindness in diabetic patients.