Telehealth is the practice of using medical grade computers and medical tablets to provide health care remotely. Telehealth practices put doctors in closer contact with distant patients, save time and energy with instant communication, and improve point-of-care services with accurate and detailed information. As our world becomes more and more connected, such practices will assume increasingly larger roles in the medical industry.
The practice of telehealth requires specific medical computers set up for such duties. When used properly, they can improve patient care in a number of ways, which is the ultimate goal for any medical organization. Four of the most prominent means are discussed below.
Time is a Factor in Wound Care
Immediate trauma usually requires immediate treatment, especially when it comes to physical injury and wounds. Getting to the emergency room can take up a great deal time, however, and yet the physician won’t be able to perform a diagnosis until the patient arrives on-site. That can lead to issues with dressing and care of the wound, and in some cases can even make the injury worse.
Telehealth practices provide a valuable advantage here. Using a tablet PC, the EMT can take a picture of the wound and send it to the hospital while the patient is en route. That allows the physicians to perform a preliminary diagnosis – including determining the cause of the wound, the extent of the damage, and any further danger to the patient, if any – without having to wait until the patient reaches them. That, in turn, allows them to recommend proper dressing and initial care for the wound, which can help stabilize the injury and minimize the damage. It also allows them to prep X-ray machines if broken bones are a factor and clear similar devices for immediate use when the patient arrives: further reducing the time required to treat the injury.
Rural Services Can Extend Their Reach
Not every patient can readily reach a care facility. People in rural areas, for instance, may be many miles from a proper hospital, while shut-ins and patients without ready means of transportation might be physically unable to reach care even if it’s not that far away. Physicians can schedule house calls, but it takes an effort to reach a distant patient, which limits the number of people they can treat in a given day and wastes a great deal of time in transit.
According to a 2017 study from American Well, 69% of U.S. adults believe that video conferencing will provide the best overall care (as opposed to merely 26% who thought a phone call would be best, and 5% who thought an email would be best). The same study also found that patients tend to trust their primary care physicians more than doctors who they do not know.
Telehealth practices allow doctors to virtually visit these patients. The physician can perform a diagnosis, prescribe medication, consult on long-term care, and even take readings with help from the patient or a local caregiver. That cuts down on transit time and allows patients without ready access to health care to receive qualified treatment. Telehealth allows PCPs to give their distant patients genuine face time, which reduces anxiety as well as allowing the patient to remain in comfortable and familiar surroundings.
Mobile Clinics and “Street Medicine” Practices Are Much Improved
Mobile clinics are a vital service to many communities, allowing doctors to travel anywhere with advanced medical devices in tow. According to a study by The American Journal of Managed Care, there are some 2,000 mobile clinics operating in the United State, 44% of which offer primary care services. They can include anything from bloodmobiles collecting donations at schools or offices to “street medicine” services providing care for the homeless and other at-risk demographics.
Telehealth practices can improve such services by keeping the mobile clinic in touch with experts and facilities they might not have otherwise. There are only so many staff members one can place in a mobile clinic, after all, and only so many pieces of equipment that can be practically placed on the vehicle. But telehealth can connect the station back to the hospital: sending patient data for analysis, consulting medical experts who wouldn’t otherwise be accessible, and connect the team on the street to the same resources a patient would have were they to receive care in the hospital itself.
For example, consider a mobile clinic serving a homeless shelter, including a patient with a skin condition that can’t readily be identified. By the time the staff back at the hospital pinpoints the condition, the patient may be long gone and unable to be readily found. But a connection via a medical tablet PC allows the staff to instantly consult a dermatologist back at the hospital, and receive both a diagnosis and a recommendation for long-term treatment in a single session.
Bedside Treatment Becomes Much More Convenient
Telehealth practices aren’t limited to locations outside the hospital or care facility. Patients being treated in a given clinic may not be able to leave their beds, or can do so only with great difficulty, which complicates their treatment considerably. There is a considerable benefit to being able to bring a computer on wheels right up to the patient’s bed, not only for a specialist or primary care physician to conduct a consultation while they’re off-site, but for fast diagnoses in the middle of the night or during similar periods when a specialist might not be on hospital grounds.
Consider the case of nursing homes, for instance. Many homes offer visits from physicians for their residents, but don’t have a doctor on permanent staff. Yet residents often have limited mobility and if they require treatment after the doctor has left for the day, it might entail an ambulance trip to the hospital: wasting precious time and putting the patient under unnecessary physical strain. Telehealth practices allow the nursing staff to contact the doctor, wheel a medical cart computer right to the patient’s bedside, and get a diagnosis and treatment plan in a fraction of the time and effort it would take otherwise.
Cybernet Manufacturing offers medical tablets with the features required to smoothly integrate telehealth practices with the remainder of your operation. Contact us today to explore your options.