The number of physicians who adopted telemedicine as one of their skills increased by 100%. Before 2020, 20% listed the skill and it increased to 40% during and after COVID-19. The AMA reports telehealth usage increased by 70% in 2020. People are happy to embrace telemedicine technology.

Telemedicine is a game-changer as it keeps people from sitting in germ-filled waiting rooms when they’re there for something as simple as a follow-up consultation for test results. It makes it easy for people in rural areas with limited transportation options to still see a doctor or have no medical offices nearby.

As the popularity of telemedicine increases, where can it go from here? Explore the future of remote healthcare services and the advantages they offer.

How Telehealth Appointments Work?

Telehealth appointments are never meant to be used in emergencies. If you have an urgent health issue, get to an urgent care location or call 911. Telehealth is meant for minor issues, such as a check-in to discuss the results of a blood test or advice on what type of skin rash you have developed.

When you make a telehealth appointment, you fill out a form to provide a doctor with as much information as possible. If you have an existing relationship with the doctor, you can skip that part.

You’ll talk over the phone, secure email, secure chat, or a video chat service like Skype. Because you are discussing your private health information, security measures are necessary.

Why Choose Telemedicine?

The benefits of telemedicine are numerous. 

  • Avoid a long drive or arranging transportation to the medical clinic or office.
  • Take readings like blood pressure and pulse in a setting where you’re comfortable.
  • Get information without having to go for a full office visit.
  • Discuss how a new medication is making you feel and if it’s helping.
  • Determine if what you’re experiencing is a cold, flu, allergies, or something else.
  • Show the doctor a picture of a rash, mole, or sore on your body to determine what it is and if it needs treatment.

Here’s an example showing how telehealth visits can be incredibly helpful. Suppose you’re an elderly adult who no longer drives. You have a chronic health condition like high blood pressure that requires constant check-ins with your doctor. There are blood pressure cuffs that take readings and send the data to your doctor to view while talking to you. Blood sugar levels, pulse readings, and O2 sats are other readings doctors can instantly access.

What Is the Future of Telehealth?

That’s what telehealth is and how it works. How is it going to advance in the future?

Expansion Into Specialties

Right now, primary care and mental health services are the most common telehealth options. In the future, specialties will be able to rely heavily on telemedicine consultations and follow-up visits. 

You could take a video of an issue you’re having, such as a trigger finger that snaps and clicks when you bend and straighten it. A specialist can watch the video, diagnose what’s happening, and go over your treatment options before you even have to drive to the office. This is especially helpful if you are 100 miles from the nearest specialist and don’t want to have to make multiple lengthy drives.

More Patients Using It and Engaging in Self-Management

With the availability of Bluetooth-enabled devices, there are so many things that people can measure at home on their own. Most devices are incredibly simple to use and don’t require more than putting them on.

There are blood pressure cuffs, pulse oximeters, blood sugar readers, cardio-respiratory readers, and even sleep apnea devices. If insurance companies cover part or all of the rental fee for the medical equipment, patients will readily embrace the ease of checking in when they have a chronic condition.

With more patients seeing the results in real-time, they can be more proactive in making necessary changes. If there’s an app saying that your blood pressure is a bit higher than normal, the patient can think back to anything that’s changed. Maybe that person is feeling a bit more stressed than usual or had a second cup of coffee during a business meeting. If nothing changes, the person knows to ask the doctor for advice. 

More Devices Are Available

With the switch to 5G, the number of medical devices that can send data instantly has risen. Years ago, testing your blood sugar levels required pricking your finger, squeezing a drip of blood onto a strip, and comparing that strip to a color chart. If you were lucky, you had a digital reader that could read it for you. 

Today, there are devices that you stick on your arm that test and read the results without you doing a thing. The information goes right to your app for you and your doctor to access and make adjustments as necessary.

AI is going to bring even more advancements to telehealth. You could have AI constantly monitoring your pulse, sugar levels, oxygen levels, pulse, and heart rhythms and alerting you and your doctor when the tiniest changes occur. You can get help earlier than ever before.

Better Health Care

With real-time data and analysis, health care improves. Instead of one yearly visit where a lot can change, doctors are checking in monthly or several times a year to make sure things are staying on track.

Because care is continuous, medical care costs can go down. That’s a win for both patients and insurance costs.

Less Strain on Busy Emergency Departments

United Healthcare found that about 18 of the 27 million ER visits annually are not emergencies. It’s getting better, but some people go to the ER for issues an urgent care clinic can handle. With telehealth, patients have guidance on where to go, if they ever need to be seen by a doctor. Sometimes, issues are easily taken care of without having to see a doctor.

Telemedicine has the power to help patients get enhanced healthcare services. It’s not meant to replace healthcare, but it can help make some follow-up appointments and consultations so much easier to fit into your busy schedule.

With advancing technology, there is a lot of room for changes in telehealth services. The popularity during the pandemic also showed that patients are happy to embrace it. As more money is invested in telemedicine technology and younger doctors receive telehealth training in school, services will become easier and more efficient to use.

Premium Urgent Care specializes in telemedicine, and we make it easy to get started. Click and fill out the sign-in form online. Share your name, medical insurance information if needed, email address, home address, preferred pharmacy, health information, and comments. A medical professional will email or text you, depending on your preference.