AcuteCare Telemedicine Blog


A Shifting Attitude

Telemedicine’s role in the current healthcare environment has been blossoming over the course of the past few years, making progress towards the full realization of the field’s potential.  A certain percentage of healthcare professionals are already there; those who have seen telemedicine at work day in and day out already know that we are providing patients with excellent care, mitigating costs to the healthcare system, and saving lives. The challenge remains getting the rest of our industry and our patients up to speed.

Improving care standards and lowering health care costs are their own rewards, but also important is the evident change in the way people think about getting medical treatment. Telemedicine is significantly changing patient behavior. We have heard astonishing figures – flirting with near 100% satisfaction rates – when it comes to positive experiences for both hospital workers and patients.

Presumably, an estimated 20% of the roughly 140 million ER visits that hospitals bear each year are able to be treated virtually. That number jumps to around 70% when considering urgent care centers and primary care physicians. The aforementioned shift in attitude about how to best access care in emergencies and non-emergencies is crucial to opening the door for telemedicine to alleviate much of the burdens these unnecessary visits place on the system. Reducing the stress on physical and financial resources also means better care across the board when patients do come to the hospital.

The speed, efficiency, and improved coordination of care are all great assets for a society battling with the challenges of an inefficient traditional healthcare system. The good news is that the many advantages of telemedicine for payers, providers, and patients are truly beginning to take root with the public, and driving behavior that will lead to even better results down the road.



An Instant Second Opinion

When citizens of a past age first envisioned practical telemedicine in 1924, the images and words on display at Worlds’ Fairs and in magazines likely seemed outlandish – a very optimistic and very distant look into the future. Few could have imagined that technology would make such great strides as to allow the development of a widely implemented network of functioning telemedicine programs less than a century later. Other futurists over the years have dreamed big, pushing forward medical innovation by imagining things like cure-all superdrugs and efficient and clean and precise surgery without a scalpel that are, believe it or not, now becoming reality as well.

As thought-provoking as these examples are, few of these big ideas are in actuality as practical or realistic as the avenues that have been opened for physician collaboration by advances in technology. Collaboration may be a lower impact medical advance than, say, leaps in prosthetics technology, but today, hospital leaders and physicians work considerably more interdependently to improve clinical outcomes and simultaneously combat healthcare logistical challenges and expenses. Increased capacity for collaboration is a major improvement enabled by powerful new telecommunication technologies that allow live consultation between physicians, regardless of distance, and unites the many individuals involved in any one patient’s care.

Telemedicine programs have helped hospital administrators create a better practice environment that results in improved recruiting and retention and fosters a virtuous cycle of better patient care and financial outcomes. One of the greatest advances simply by facilitating two-way conversation for professionals who are used to talking at each other instead of with each other. Collaboration is, in reality, the most tangible of telemedicine’s many benefits.