Telehealth has been growing for many years and with it, have come new jobs and responsibilities. From the invention of the telephone to the internet to artificial intelligence and machine learning, advancing technology has been able to expand and extend the reach of various service industries, including medicine and healthcare.

These changes have helped physicians, nurses and other healthcare workers better monitor and help patients with diagnosis, treatment plans and long-term monitoring. As technology continues to advance, so too will telehealth.

 

The Origins of Telehealth

While many people think of modern-day smartphones when they hear the word telehealth, the practice has been around for over 100 years. One of the earliest examples we have of the telephone playing a part in medical services is an article dated from 1879. The written piece discusses how doctors can use the telephone to reduce office visits for patients, particularly when the conditions or symptoms were not severe.  

 

Shortly after the radio was invented, people began speculating how it could be adapted by physicians to treat patients from a distance. There were even some articles written on the topic that predicted diagnostic tools would be invented to help make radio medicine a reality.

 

Over the decades, a number of organizations, including NASA, have helped to expand telehealth services. Diagnosing from a distance became particularly important during the Mercury space program. NASA ran several pilot tests that helped advance telemedicine technology. It was in the 1950s that video technology found its place in modern medicine thanks to researchers at the University of Nebraska.  

 

However, physicians also noted the needs of patients with chronic illnesses. As 75 percent of health care expenses are due to chronic illness issues, the need to save time and money drove the advancement of telehealth services in the industry.

 

Old Jobs, New Office

As telehealth services expand, there has been a call for new job positions to help meet demand in addition to adapting many traditional healthcare jobs. While telehealth may seem simple enough; a doctor simply phones a patient to discuss their symptoms, there are some behind the scenes work that is needed to make this happen. For example, many of us take for granted our ability to make emergency or 911 calls or even phoning our doctor’s office, but these both count as telehealth services. Consider what medical care would be if we didn’t have immediate access to emergency help simply by calling a central switchboard.

 

The telehealth industry has seen the creation of several new positions as jobs shift from face-to-face interactions to partial or fully virtual services. From doctors, nurses and more, there is a vast amount of opportunity for those wanting to get into the telehealth profession. Nearly every medical professional is capable of offering telehealth services including psychiatrists, speech therapists, radiologists, etc.

 

Some jobs in the industry connect patients to telehealth services while other jobs help healthcare providers. These include radiologists who can review images sent via e-mail and send a diagnosis back to the doctor. They can also include specialists in various medical areas such as pediatrics. These professionals can help other healthcare providers in smaller areas in making a diagnosis or treatment plan.

 

New Telehealth Jobs

In the medical profession, there have been those that have adapted their services to telehealth technology. There are also other jobs that have been created due to the need in the telehealth industry. Telehealth jobs can include:

 

Telehealth assistant – similar to a physician’s assistant these individuals can help telehealth providers with administrative tasks.

 

Telehealth coordinators – these are those individuals responsible for helping medical organizations, including hospitals, adapt and offer telehealth services.

 

Telehealth nurse – one of the frontline positions in telehealth is the registered nurse. This is the individual that will talk with patients on the phone to determine the severity of the issue. They are the equivalent of a triage nurse that patients would initially interact with when they arrive at a hospital emergency room.

 

Registered nurse – nurses can use telehealth services to help care for patients in their own homes. Unlike nurses at a call center, these RNs will have a list of patients they are responsible for and use technology to monitor their condition.

 

Implementation consultant – similar to a telehealth coordinator, a consultant helps medical providers get started in telehealth. They help doctors, nurses and other staff understand the technology and best practices.

 

Care coordinator – these individuals are similar to physician assistants. Much like an RN, the care coordinator will have a list of patients that they monitor. Care coordinators contact these patients on a regular basis to see how they are managing their condition in their homes. They may also guide patients on healthy living options for their lives.

 

Sales executive – telehealth roles extend beyond the medical field and include sales professionals, marketing specialists, etc.

 

Telehealth technician – due to its reliance on technology, many telehealth companies need technical-minded employees to help them handle the maintenance of the hardware and software. These IT specialists are also required to fix any bugs or other issues that come up.

 

Along with these roles, many traditional jobs have also been adapted for telehealth opportunities including clinician, administrator, clerk and more.

 

The Future of Telehealth

Telehealth has a long history and a bright future. As technology has advanced over the past decades, so has the medical field. Telehealth has been changing how healthcare providers care for patients. From phone calls with patients to video conferences and virtual diagnosis, there are a variety of jobs that are being adapted to fill the needs of patients accessing telehealth services.

 

To learn more about how your organization can harness the power of technology to further your healthcare services, contact us today

It has been an unexpected result of the COVID-19 pandemic but the telemedicine industry is booming.

The Coronavirus has changed a number of things in our world including how we connect with healthcare services and providers. Statistics show that the telemedicine industry has seen a spike in usage over the past few weeks, according to CNBC. As more and more people are following social distancing measures, connecting to quality medical care through video calls is becoming a normal way of life.

 

How COVID-19 Is Impacting Healthcare

The coronavirus’ arrival on the scene has been impacting health care services across the country and the world. The shelter in place orders that governments have issued has changed the traditional face of healthcare in a number of ways. These include:

  • Safety – coronavirus is believed to be transmitted from person to person through droplets, which makes being near to one another a risk. People can have the virus without being aware of it and without showing any symptoms. Therefore, to ensure public safety and stop the spread of the coronavirus people are encouraged to keep their distance from one another. That means it is no longer safe for doctors, their staff and patients to gather at clinics or hospitals.
  • Reluctance/fear – patients with non-coronavirus symptoms are reluctant to seek medical help for themselves or their loved ones for fear of contracting COVID-19. Some reports indicate that a large number of patients may be suffering in their homes or seeking alternative treatments.
  • Disruption – those with conditions that need ongoing care and monitoring could find accessing their healthcare team difficult. These patients are among the most vulnerable when it comes to infections, particularly to the negative impact that COVID-19 can have. Keeping them safe at home is very important for their long-term health, but it hinders their ability to receive routine care for their chronic illness.

 

Telemedicine’s Role In Overcoming COVID-19

Over the past couple of months, health care providers have been looking for ways to continue offering their services without putting themselves or their patients at risk. Following government shelter in place regulations, treating patients in clinics and hospitals become more difficult. Moreover, patients may also be hesitant to seek out medical help for non-coronavirus symptoms. Using telemedicine tools, doctors, nurses and other health care providers can still connect with patients either through a video call, messaging or phone call to assess their condition. In addition, telemedicine has been a useful tool in helping overcome the pandemic in a variety of ways including:

  • Distancing – One of the biggest benefits that telemedicine offers is remote care where the patient, physician and staff can all stay safe at a distance. Through video calls, patients are able to access the care and advice they need from health care providers, without putting themselves, the physicians or nurses at risk. Another creative way that hospitals have been using telemedicine tools has been through robots and iPads, according to The Washington Post. ER doctors are able to communicate and assess patients seeking emergency care through iPads strapped to stands. Depending on the patient’s symptoms, these robots can have a stethoscope attachment or another piece of equipment to help the doctor assess the patient remotely. In this way, both the patient and the doctor retain safe social distancing practices while ensuring the patient gets treatment for their condition. Another benefit of this practice is the doctor does not need to use up the hospitals’ valuable supply of masks and gowns.
  • Urgent COVID-19 video calls – some healthcare providers, such as Dignity Health, are offering free assessments for patients who are showing coronavirus symptoms. These virtual urgent care calls are helping identify and treat COVID-19 patients. Through this telemedicine service, officials are able to gather accurate data on the virus and its spread while protecting patients and health care providers.
  • Keeping waiting rooms empty – telemedicine is helping hospitals triage patients virtually rather than in a physical waiting room. This helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus between people.
  • Managing doctor’s schedule – many physicians have been able to adapt to using telemedicine tools to meet with patients and maintain a busy schedule of treatment. This means that there are fewer patients that will have to wait to see a doctor about their concerns.

 

The Future of Telemedicine

While telemedicine may be having big success now, will that carry over when the COVID-19 emergency has passed?

 

One of the biggest hurdles in overcoming telemedicine’s move to mainstream healthcare has been cost. However, following the coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) made it easier for telemedicine services to be billed to patients’ insurance. This change prompted the American Academy of Family Physicians to release guidelines on how to use telemedicine technology.

 

Once the COVID-19 concerns are over, it is very likely these health organizations will continue to offer telemedicine as a service for patients. Moreover, the loosening of restrictions provides the telemedicine industry with an opportunity to prove itself. If it can be seen as a viable health care option, policymakers may be inclined to allow the temporary measures to become permanent.

 

As many individuals become adept at using video conferencing tools for work and school as a result of social distancing practices, these tools are also becoming commonplace for telehealth providers and patients. Tools like Skype or FaceTime have become acceptable ways to communicate with patients.

 

Whether quarantine orders remain in place for weeks or months, more and more patients are turning to telemedicine tools to help them manage their health care. This is going to change their expectation for future delivery of services. They will know first-hand the convenience of using these tools to see a doctor, nurse or specialist. It is unlikely they will be willing to go back to the traditional ways of waiting in a doctor’s office for hours on end.

 

You can find out more about telemedicine or receive a free COVID-19 virtual assessment through the Dignity Health website.

Advanced technology has been revolutionizing the way we do things. From smart homes to remote work to healthcare. The arrival of telehealth has been a welcome tool during these social distancing days. Just like the smartphone changed the way we connect and communicate, so telehealth is altering how we get our medical care.

 

What is Telehealth

Essentially, telehealth is when a patient uses a digital device like a laptop, tablet or mobile phone to communicate with a healthcare provider or manage their health remotely. It is a broad term that can include a variety of things such as:

  • Virtual visit with a doctor
  • Using apps to manage your health condition. For example, if you are diabetic, you can use apps to estimate the amount of insulin you will need.
  • Patient portals that give you access to your test results
  • Set reminders in your device that signal when you need preventative care such as immunizations, exams, etc.

Telehealth has been designed to improve the health of patients in a number of ways, including:

  • Accessibility to patients in remote communities
  • Services for those with limited mobility
  • Coordination among members of a healthcare team
  • Supportive self-care for patients

As technology continues to develop, it is likely that telehealth services for patients will also expand.

 

Benefits of Telehealth

Telehealth services were already gaining attention prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but with most of the world in isolation, the benefits of telehealth have become even more apparent.

  • Remote access – for those who struggle to leave their homes or who are sheltering in place, telehealth connects you with medical care and attention. This can include discussing recent symptoms with your physician, checking in with a nurse who is monitoring your condition and more. Through telehealth, you can also upload information for your healthcare providers who are monitoring your condition. This can include blood glucose readings for those with diabetes or blood pressure for patients with this ailment.
  • No waiting – with telehealth services you won’t have to spend hours waiting in a doctor’s office or hospital for care. Simply, set your meeting time and connect online when the time comes. It is important to be considerate and remember that physicians are busy so try not to keep them waiting.
  • Variety of services – telehealth services are more than just virtual meetings with doctors. Through patient portals, you are able to get test results, schedule appointments and request prescription refills. You can also see a specialist that can help you manage your condition.
  • Information – telehealth can also be a source of trusted information. For example, if you are a parent of an infant who has a fever, you can reach a nursing call center to find out how to care for your child and when to take them to a hospital for treatment.
  • Monitoring – telehealth also involves monitoring patients’ health regularly. This can be done through wearable devices that record heart rate, tremors, physical activity, sleep patterns, etc. Devices that can help older patients in their homes such as falls or inactivity can be used to alert caregivers via telehealth communications.
  • Apps – there is a range of apps that can help patients stay healthy. These include tools that record vital signs, track physical activity, and send reminders to take medicine. Apps can also be used to record and store personal health information so that you can access it easily in an emergency.

 

Companies Excelling in Telehealth

In the world of telehealth, there are some public organizations that have been permitted to offer telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there have already been several companies that were growing in the telehealth industry. As demand for telehealth services increases, these companies that have excelled in the field will be leading the way. These companies are set to become strong providers of telehealth services for patients across the U.S.

Statistics show that the industry will see about an 80 percent year over year increase in 2020. With the relaxation of state regulations that oversee telehealth services over the past few weeks, it is a given that the telehealth industry will become stronger over the next few years.

 

  • Gyant – They use chats to collect patient information, which is then analysed by AI. The benefit to patients is the tool is able to help them navigate their way through various treatment options. Following the initial visit, Gyant’s telehealth tool reaches out to patients with some follow-up information regarding their condition and ways to help manage it.
  • Hale Health – This company has designed a tool that allows a patient’s care team to stay informed and connected. The idea is to help patients’ manage their condition between doctor visits. Hale can provide information to users on what action to take based on their reported symptoms. It also allows patients to send messages to doctors before and after their visit.
  • Dignity Health – With over 60,000 caregivers and staff, Dignity health has become the fifth largest health care system in the U.S. Their virtual care options assist patients who are having symptoms but can’t get to see a doctor. They have even been offering urgent care visits for those with coronavirus symptoms.
  • Teladoc Health – Their platform allows patients to have virtual visits with different types of health care professionals such as mental health practitioners. Teladoc has developed an integrated platform where users can get their health care problems solved whether it is a simple issue or a more complex case.
  • Doctor on Demand – Patients are able to reach a variety of medical professionals to discuss their symptoms and treatment options. Users will be able to book virtual appointments with physicians or psychologists to discuss their symptoms and concerns.

 

If you are having symptoms and are concerned about your health but unable to see a doctor, you can book a virtual visit with a physician now.

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