When patients require help wherever and whenever they need it, healthcare services need to be available and accessible. Along with interaction, context and content, this is core to defining patient experience. The use of technology in delivering care becomes desirable for doctors, and a preferred option by patients, and is the call that Telehealth answers.
Telehealth has increased patient access to care, with Telehealth Index: 2019 Physician Survey showing the adoption of telehealth by physicians is growing and still appears to be on an upward trajectory.
This growth in adoption is understandable - Telehealth allows healthcare providers to care for patients remotely, and cost-efficiently. It enables a team-based approach for people with complex health needs, so clinicians can have a holistic view of the patient’s health and coordinate care.
In the survey mentioned above, participated in by 800 doctors, other perceived benefits of telehealth to their practice include more efficient use of time for the doctor and patients (77%), lower costs (71%), better communication with patients (71%) and enhanced doctor-patient relationships.
As doctor-patient relationships serve to contribute to clinical outcomes, that relationship needs to be nurtured and acted upon. Key is communication with the patient as a participant, where they can determine, how, when and where. And not just the means of communication, but the content and context of what is being communicated as core to the value to clinicians and patients In that regard, we have gathered the views of thought leaders:
"Primary care is evolving into more of a flowing, virtual relationship where patients have more frequent but briefer contact with their doctor's office instead of just office visits maybe twice a year. Getting medical care is such a complex activity that people really need somebody who can advise, guide and coordinate for them. People still really want a relationship with someone who can do that." - Dr. Russell Phillips (source: Telemedicine and walk-in clinics have future of family doctor in flux)
"Remote monitoring of physiology is an important component of telemedicine or telehealth. If we are to care for our patients remotely in telemedicine, then we must be able to have data on which to make decisions. Some of the data come from remote monitoring, while some may come from information we may already have in electronic health records." - Dr. Sherry-Ann Brown @drbrowncares (source: How telemedicine intersects with AI, social media, and precision medicine)
"As a physician with over 20 years of practicing medicine, I’ve always been an advocate of strong doctor-patient relationships. The strength of that relationship is the core of high-quality patient care. Contrary to what some physicians think, I believe telemedicine actually has the power to enhance and harness that relationship — if we use it in the right way." - Dr. Glen McCracken (Source: How is Telehealth is Restoring the Doctor-Patient Relationship)
"New pathways to care, including telemedicine, urgent and retail clinics, impact how patients view their personal connection with any one given physician...Access must be reconsidered within the contexts of telemedicine and the potentials of artificial intelligence to augment encounters with the healthcare team. How we should approach the modern patient-physician relationship: honoring the roots of the profession while employing the benefit of new technologies and methods for team-based delivery of care." - Dr. Aaron George @aaronegeorge (source: The physician-patient relationship has changed)
"Telemedicine can be easily implemented and quickly integrated into a practice. It enables healthcare providers to provide a reliable continuum of care to their patients by helping them stay connected, conveniently... Because of telehealth, the center is able to better know its patients, and to help them manage their chronic conditions, ultimately improving their quality of life." - Laurie A. Keefer (Source: At Mount Sinai, telehealth reduces ER visits and hospitalizations)
When the bottom line in healthcare is patient access to care, telehealth needs to enable that and more. Indeed, it’s where the doctor-patient relationship really begins. More than just telehealth, it’s about communicating care anytime, anywhere, any device.