Telehealth: an untapped but powerful tool
Telehealth has clear benefits for Australia with our geographically dispersed population. It eases costs by facilitating timelier clinical workflow and decision-making to improve the overall patient experience, and by the appropriate use of data insights.
About a third of Australians believe the healthcare system in their country does not provide them access to medical care and availability of doctors. Additionally, 56% say they are discouraged from visiting a healthcare professional even when they have a medical reason to go. Limitations of insurance (23%), lack of time (17%) and difficulty/inability to schedule an appointment (13%) are cited as common reasons.
But with telehealth or virtual care, these things can be improved. The impact of virtual care for patients and healthcare care professionals goes beyond that of teleconferencing, and it benefits every part of the entire patient care continuum. Virtual care is population management at scale, helping to provide more proactive and supportive care to patients and their healthcare professionals, easing the strain on resources to deliver value-based healthcare.
Improvements in care are enabled via a better understanding of the patient care journey, which can be gained via both historical and predictive analytics. Telehealth encourages patients to access care, manage their appointments, access specialist care and allied health professionals, as no matter what the geographical boundaries.
The evidence is clear, with thirty six percent of Australians being open to remove consultations for non-urgent care, and nearly half of Australian healthcare professionals saying they have seen telehealth positively impacting patients’ experience in the last five years.
However, the wider adoption of telehealth by healthcare professionals is needed in order to fully unlock these significant patient benefits. The report revealed that healthcare professionals are less open to using technology to bridge gaps in healthcare access, most likely driven by a lack of suitable reimbursement models and concerns about data privacy and security.
Bridging the gap
The Future Health Index 2019 report indicated that putting the patient at the center of the healthcare experience delivers better health outcomes, lowers the cost of care and supports Australians to accelerate the move towards value-based care. Supporting both patients and healthcare professionals to better understand and embrace the many benefits that telehealth provides, helps achieve this important goal.
We are constantly driven by innovation to introduce meaningful solutions like predictive analytics, data visualization and advanced reporting capabilities, which offer an unprecedented level of support to healthcare professionals in the provision of better access to affordable healthcare.
Already, we are seeing the benefits of mobile technology and the impact that smartphones, tablets, apps and wearables are having on the healthcare experience – half of Australian healthcare professionals have seen telehealth positively impacting the patient experience in the last five years. But we need adoption at scale and encouragement by healthcare professionals to embrace the evolution of this type of care.
We are excited by the way technology is already empowering patients and carers, giving them more control over their health. Philips is determined to continue providing solutions that allow patients to stay healthy, prevent illness and disease, and assist healthcare professionals to deliver value-based healthcare.
This article first appeared in HealthDispatch on October 29, 2019.