Technology affects every industry around the world in the modern day, but few look at how it has impacted the health sector. One of the most impactful effects technology has had is helping to make health services more available to everybody who needs assistance. While many often assume technology has simply improved the process of medicine, which it certainly has, the effects go far deeper.
Telehealth has emerged as its own industry within health. Essentially, telehealth is where licensed therapists, counselors, or other medical professionals provide virtual consultations or discussions on health-related topics. This developing industry and the technology it uses is changing the field of physical and mental health forever. Here’s how:
1. Reduced Health Costs
One of the biggest advantages telehealth brings to the table is the reduced cost of healthcare. Not every country around the world has universal healthcare and some people are unable to attend a physician’s office if they do not have insurance. Telehealth offers lower costs for consultations and meetings that most people can afford, with some platforms even offering financial assistance.
Reducing the cost of healthcare is one of the quickest ways to increase the amount of people visiting health professionals, which will ideally lead to a healthy growth for the health industry.
2. Reduced Travel Times
Sometimes, commuting to the doctor’s office can be challenging if your favorite doctor isn’t in your area. Switching doctors can sometimes feel like a hassle if you really enjoy your doctor, so telehealth has helped to reduce travel times by eliminating the need to go into the office in-person for most situations.
This reduction of travel time is an important step in allowing more people to seek healthcare treatment as well, considering some families may not own a car or they may share a single vehicle. A person may not need to miss their doctor’s appointment if they can just call in from a phone or computer.
3. Increased Access to Healthcare
As alluded to, the general access to healthcare has increased tenfold due to telehealth. This is by far the biggest way in which the healthcare industry is changing due to this new technology. No matter where you are in the world, it’s possible that a doctor may be able to get on the line with you and discuss what seems to be affecting you.
For those who are living with mental health challenges, access to a therapist or counselor who isn’t in your immediate area is one of the most valuable resources. This general increase in access to medical services bodes well for societal health as a whole.
4. 24/7 Access to Medical Professionals
On the same train of thought as having increased access to healthcare services, people now have access to medical professionals 24/7. Even if there is no doctor online, some telehealth applications allow texting between a patient and a doctor in a secure room.
When the doctor checks their messages the following day, they’ll be able to see you sent them a message and start a conversation.
Depending on the professional and the platform you are using, this means that you could gain access to necessary prescriptions or receive a general consultation when needed.
5. Easier Check Ins With Patients
Finally, telehealth can make following up with patients quicker and easier. Sometimes, a patient listens to a doctor’s orders but forgets to follow those instructions in the long term. Telehealth can help fix this by allowing doctors to quickly remind and check in with their patients.
Whether it is a quick phone call, video call, or even just texting, telehealth makes checking up on patients easier than ever before.
In general, the technology behind telehealth relies on the development of both the Internet and smartphones. As these technologies continue to advance and become more complex, the level of treatment offered by telehealth can continue to increase and perhaps someday rival that of in-person care.
As a whole, telehealth is unlike anything the health industry has ever seen before. With more and more people able to access the assistance of medical professionals using technology, it seems hopeful that society as a whole can become healthier both mentally and physically. With that said, only time will tell how telehealth develops, as well as the technology in the industry.