The role and contribution of Telehealth Patient Engagement in Healthcare Organizations

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Telehealth exemplifies the ancient adage, “old wine in new bottles.” To be sure, telehealth has been existing in some shape or another for decades. However, in the years preceding the outbreak of the new disease caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19), it was rapidly gaining popularity. COVID-19, on the other hand, elevated the technology’s prominence as a requirement for providing treatment and keeping patients and providers safe.

As a matter of fact, all the healthcare IT software solutions such as EHR/EMR, patient portal, fertility system, mobile apps, and some more are available at TatvaSoft. Each one of those is developed to increase operational efficiency, provide insightful decisions, in a cost-effective manner. 

Telehealth is critical in assisting healthcare businesses with their patient engagement strategy. Telehealth technology plays a critical role in the patient-provider relationship by providing more efficient access to care.

Table of Content:

  • Introduction
  • e-health and Patient Engagement
  • What is Patient Engagement?
  • Why Is Patient Engagement Important in Healthcare?
  • Benefits of Patient Engagement
  • Enrollment of Patients in Telehealth Services
  • What is telehealth?
  • Factors impacting telehealth
  • Conclusion

e-health and Patient Engagement

Ever since the mid-1990s, the term “eHealth” has grown in popularity. E-health is a broad term that refers to a variety of consumer- or patient-accessible health information. Several examples involve telemedicine, which enables remote medical diagnosis and treatment, and electronic health records (EHRs), which enable the storage and exchange of patient data between health professionals and patient education. The broad objectives of eHealth are to improve personal healthcare by utilising efficient, effective, safe, and accessible information over the internet that can affect personal health.

Computer, computational, and informatics sciences have enabled technological and social advancements in e-health solutions. eHealth initiatives have evolved beyond consumers accessing a website for health-related content to consumers participating in online social networking opportunities. This category includes blogs, podcasts, RSS feeds, mobile applications, search engines, and surveys. Today, social media serves as a support network for people who have a chronic condition or share a common health problem.

Consumers now have access to artificial intelligence, densely populated and participative software applications, and commercially based expert systems.

m-Health has emerged due to the exponential development in the availability and use of mobile computing devices (smartphones and tablets). With an increasing number of individuals owning cell phones, computers, tablets, and Apple Watches and enhanced internet speed and access, health information is readily available – at any time and in any location.

Technology is a means of increasing access to health care resources; it does not supplant patient decision-making or the provider’s independence of judgement. The rapid adoption of breakthrough technology necessitates professional understanding and proficiency in order to make informed patient decisions. It is anticipated that eHealth will continue to improve healthcare, and it will be fascinating to see how its effects evolve toward improved patient outcomes.

What is Patient Engagement?

Patient engagement is a term that refers to tools and actions taken by and for patients, guardians, and health care providers in order to encourage informed decision-making and behaviour change that results in improved health outcomes.

Why Is Patient Engagement Important in Healthcare?

Given that medical professionals are experts, some patients may believe they should just heed their advice. However, evidence indicates that when patients participate in decision-making, they develop a higher grasp of and devotion to healing and health maintenance procedures. Health participation improves patient outcomes and results in cost savings.

60,185 patients were placed into two groups in a study. One group received “normal” health coach support, whereas the other group received “increased” health coach help. For patients who received additional support rather than standard care:

  • Total medical costs decreased by 5.3 % via telehealth.
  • Inpatient admissions decreased by 12.5%, including rural areas.
  • Emergency room visits decreased by 2.6 %, and possibilities of a virtual visit.
  • 9.9 % less risk surgeries.
  • 10.9 % less heart operations.

Benefits of Patient Engagement

  • Acquired a better understanding of their health and medical concerns.
  • Acquired real-time or near-real-time accessibility to their own medical data.
  • Improved contact with their physicians and other healthcare professionals.
  • Assumed a greater degree of accountability for their own health and health outcomes.
  • Enhanced their interaction with the healthcare system.
  • Educated and informed their family members and caregivers.
  • Received support from family, friends, caregivers, and health experts regarding your health and healthy behaviours.

Enrollment of Patients in Telehealth Services

Telehealth is increasingly being utilised to supplement diabetes management as digital health technology progresses. Telemedicine is a viable technique for diabetes patients because it enables enhanced and accurate blood glucose monitoring while also promoting medication adherence. However, to realise these benefits, patients must participate with the technology.

What is telehealth?

The bulk of telehealth platforms are highly sophisticated and secure. They are integrated with medical equipment that is stored on computers or in the cloud. Additionally, this can include integrating mobile apps that enable doctors and other medical professionals to treat patients via their cellphones. In these uncertain times, this medical assistance system has been critical in encouraging patients to contact doctors. They can even receive treatment for minor issues. Telehealth is a game-changer, with a variety of technology options that improve and streamline the process.

To describe a Telehealth system, it is a collection of health information technology that entails integrating screens, devices, apps, and techniques to improve the engaged healthcare management system. This includes the design, development, creation, implementation, use, and maintenance of healthcare sector systems. For this reason, physicians and doctors may be able to reach a greater number of patients by delivering care and treatment via telemedicine platforms that include a recorded medical record and, if applicable, a prescription.

Factors impacting telehealth

The dilemma for the future is how to sustain communication of telehealth by building on the momentum that existed prior to and through the COVID-19 crisis. Four elements will influence telehealth’s continued adoption and viability in the post-COVID-19 world: use cases, payer hurdles, legislative changes, and technology.

1. Case Studies. 

Use cases spark adoption. Telehealth’s costs and benefits were identified prior to COVID-19. They are projected to continue post-COVID-19 and will contribute to the advancement of technology once the COVID-19 crisis fades.

2. Taking Steps to Lower Payer Hurdles.

To ensure the long-term viability of telehealth, payers must adapt. Prior to COVID-19, payers restricted the use and reimbursement of telehealth. They include administrative roadblocks that require prior authorisation, referrals, and medically necessary evaluations. Simultaneously, payers’ coverage and reimbursement for telemedicine were significantly lower than the going rate for in-person care and prognosis.

3. Regulatory Modifications.

While telehealth had existed for years before the COVID-19 issue, numerous federal rules and state parity laws limited coverage by Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial insurers; limited authorised places of care; and restricted which may provide telehealth services through licensure. Prior to COVID-19, some of that altered because of bipartisan support for the positives of telehealth.

4. Innovation in Technology. 

Telehealth platforms have exploded in popularity in the aftermath of the COVID-19 incident. This difference is reminiscent of the early days of electronic health records (EHRs). Then, hundreds of products with varying degrees of interoperability and sophistication were available on the market, but the number has drastically dropped as a result of industry consolidation. After COVID-19 concludes, there is expected to be a comparable sifting of the telehealth market.

Conclusion

While the COVID-19 health crisis and the telehealth remedies implemented constitute a sea change in the way medical treatment is delivered, they are not unprecedented. Telehealth services have grown at a breakneck pace precisely because these technologies were already highly developed and successfully applied in several healthcare systems prior to the epidemic. In addition, numerous innovative care initiatives have been embraced inside O&P, and these novel practices are likely to persist in some form once the present pandemic is over.

The critical transformation of telehealth systems is the transition from crisis mode to sustainable, secure systems that appropriately protect data security and patient privacy and provide sustained tech assistance for post-crisis care.   All healthcare providers will have to contend with the demands of “care debt” incurred due to delayed or missed medical care. As a result of care being delayed during the crisis, we can anticipate an increase in significant condition consequences and routine O&P follow-up.

Telemedicine technology and procedures have been accessible and proved to be feasible inside O&P for many years, but they were not widely used prior to the current crisis due to a lack of compelling reasons for their use. Perhaps investing in the tough work of adjusting processes to substitute remote visits for in-person consultations did not appear to provide enough return. As we see, necessity also plays a role in accepting technology and the alteration of established processes. As telehealth becomes more widely utilised throughout our profession, we may see increased care efficiency and effectiveness without sacrificing quality or engagement.