Leveraging Telehealth: Beyond Video Visits
Life can be hard even without the daily stress of the Covid-19 pandemic. In a time of shelter-in-place orders, giving patients disease management tools that help them manage chronic conditions beyond the four walls of a clinical setting has extensive benefits.
Right now, we’re experiencing a once-in-a-generation pandemic that is rapidly disrupting how we live, work, socialize and manage our health. While many unknowns still exist about Covid-19, we know that patients with chronic conditions, patients who suffer from immunosuppression, and anyone over the age of 60 may be at higher risk.
There is an urgency to expand the use of technology to help people who need routine care, and keep at-risk people and people with mild symptoms in their homes. To fight Covid-19, public health officials have been urging healthcare providers to embrace virtual or remote care. In light of increasing pressures, Congress passed an emergency spending bill, dedicating $500 million for telehealth services.
Beyond video visits
Telehealth encompasses a broad variety of technologies to deliver virtual medical, health, and education services. Companies like Teladoc Health, Doctor on Demand, and MD Live allow people to see doctors and other medical professionals remotely via phone, video call, and computer. While telehealth is not a new concept in healthcare, it’s now being accessed at previously unseen rates:
- Teladoc Health reported call volume was up by 50%.
- Nemours Children’s Health System reported a 1,110% increase in telemedicine visits.
- Atrium Health reported a 500% increase in telehealth usage.
Beyond video visits, telehealth can be leveraged at scale to monitor clinical information remotely or support patients in maintaining health and managing disease.
- Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is defined as the use of digital technology, like connected health devices, to collect patient vital data and securely send it to healthcare providers. The goal is to help patients manage their diseases – such as heart disease – remotely.
- Remote disease management encompasses holistic efforts to manage all aspects of lifestyle and medication as it relates to a specific disease. At-risk patients are continuously monitored in their homes while maintaining access to the care they need.
RPM and patient self-management tools are invaluable resources for supporting at-risk populations. We highlight some benefits below:
#1. Clinical feedback loops
As the number of Covid-19 cases continue to rise, patients with chronic conditions have increased risk for complications related to the virus. RPM can ensure that high-risk and rising risk patients have timely, accurate information to better manage their condition. Additionally, healthcare providers can remotely monitor patients’ existing chronic conditions, check for Covid-19 symptoms, adjust treatment plans, and precisely identify the right combinations of therapies and other behaviors that will improve health outcomes. These enhancements help alleviate demand on the current healthcare system by reducing the need for hospital/office visits and minimizing the risk of exposure to Covid-19.
#2. Adherence to medications and treatment protocols
The healthcare ecosystem battles adherence to medication and treatment protocols everyday. For example, about 50% of people with chronic conditions are non-adherent to their medications. As Covid-19 continues to infect a growing number of people in the United States, some pharmacists and other healthcare experts are concerned that patients – especially those with underlying conditions – may stop adhering to their medication regimens.
To increase medication and treatment adherence, it’s important to treat the entire person, not just their condition. Self-management tools give patients personalized information about how their chronic conditions are addressed by their medications and how to better manage their symptoms. Companies like Mango Health, which send compliance reminders to take medication, have shown positive results for increasing medication compliance, which leads to more positive patient care outcomes.
#3. Just-in time patient education and feedback loops
Nearly half of all Americans suffer from at least one chronic condition, and are faced with managing heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, or other health conditions everyday.
With the help of a disease management platform, healthcare providers can continually provide ongoing support, timely information, and personalized resources that extend care beyond ambulatory settings. Likewise, digital health tools that are educating and engaging help patients make more informed decisions about their health, which is key to improving outcomes and reducing readmissions.
Looking towards the future
Covid-19 underlines now, more than ever, the importance of leveraging remote disease management and triage. Looking towards the future, we expect to see widespread adoption and use of digital health technologies that mitigate patients’ lifestyle risk and promote timely and adequate treatment response to delay or avoid costly disease progression.
The benefit is twofold: patients can better manage their health while providing valuable data to drive physicians and healthcare organizations to improve clinical outcomes.
To learn more about Veta Health’s digital disease management solutions, please contact us here or through the form below.
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