Impact of telehealth on patient-centric healthcare delivery

Revolutionizing healthcare delivery through the development of telehealth

Ascendion May 6, 2024


Illamathy E N
Health-Tech Engineering

Telehealth is not new to India. Some institutions offered this in the early 2000s, but its popularity was relatively low. After COVID-19, both doctors and patients have started realizing the need for Telehealth. Some health-tech companies have started offering Telehealth to their patients by tying-up with some doctors.


1. Can telehealth services be a reliable source for enhancing diverse healthcare needs?

Doctors have started to adopt telehealth across many countries including India. This provides a more convenient and accessible solution for varied situations like, when an elderly person is not able to travel for a regular check-up, and a patient may be staying far away from the hospital and that travel is expensive and time consuming. Beyond these, a routine check-up for chronic patients or patients with mental health issues, post-surgery follow ups, patient on travel wanted to connect with their PCP/Pediatric, sudden on-set of some conditions but not emergencies like rashes, allergy is also addressed by Telehealth. Any lab or radiology reports, if required, are also shared with the providers digitally. It is essential to understand that if the doctors or the patients feel the need for an in-person visit, it is not denied. In some situations, expert opinion or second opinion is sought via telehealth.


2. What is the scope of virtual care problems in providing quality healthcare to patrons?

While telehealth presents numerous benefits, it also has a lot of challenges, especially in developing countries. Many of the patients may not be comfortable adopting technology. Also, less digital literacy among people, availability of reliable and high-speed internet connections and a smart mobile device is also a challenge for many. Doctors may also have limitations in accurately accessing physical conditions, observing the members head to toe and in some cases not able to give medications and injections immediately. The traditional feel of touch and feel will be missed by patients and doctors, which may lead to dissatisfaction among some members. In some cases, missing doorknob moments may cause missing opportunity to diagnose


3. How can telehealth instruments like wearables and connected devices be used for optimal healthcare?

Now there are a lot of wearable devices like fitness trackers and smart watches available in the market that synchronize and exchange data with a smartphone. These devices can measure step counts, heart rate measurements, sleep patterns, and more. But these data are useful only when they are analyzed with members’ complete health data. In some developed countries, insurance companies allow members to link these data to their member app and features are provided in the app to analyze and generate a report by associating it to chosen health and wellness goals. In India, bigger institutions may allow chronic patients to share their health vitals from these wearable devices to doctors application. These will help them to monitor the patient’s health, especially when they meet them via telehealth. Wearable devices for elders to detect fall, glucose monitoring, blood oxygen can be used effectively and in most cases lifesaving.


4. What are the benefits of hybrid-care models in healthcare?

These hybrid-care models, combining virtual healthcare services for a regular check-up and in-person visit on need basis, offer benefits for older people, extremely sick patients who have limited mobility, and patients who stay far away from the hospitals. This reduced the unnecessary travel thereby saving cost and time. Hybrid-care models also enhance continuity of care, wherein there is a high chance of members skipping regular check-ups due to travel constraints. In India, where time and cost are a barrier for many people from rural part to obtain quality medical care, this serves a better option for them. The members from rural areas can seek treatment from a renowned specialist in the city without fear of frequent visit.

The adoption of telehealth is growing post COVID-19. This hybrid model enhances accessibility and convenience. This has high potential to offer a patient-centric approach to the evolving needs of individuals. While there is steady increase in telehealth adoption, it is essential to address the data security, and regulatory frameworks to ensure its effective and ethical use of members protected health information (PHI).

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