- April 12, 2023
- Symphony Ragan, Content Specialist
Apart from COVID-19, the term telehealth has probably been one of the most used buzzwords of 2020. Telehealth and telemedicine have been thrust into the limelight due to the Coronavirus outbreak and the healthcare sector’s efforts to expand digital healthcare.
While telehealth visits were considered a novel experience for many patients during this time, it has since become the more operative norm moving forward. In preparation for telehealth adoption as part of the new normal, healthcare service providers worldwide have committed to investing in new technologies. As they rush to meet this demand, though, there are critical issues to consider.
How Common is Telehealth?
Let’s begin by taking a peek into telemedicine’s development, which has been around for decades. Nevertheless, telemedicine has remarkably grown over the past few years as more healthcare providers and patients embrace technology and seek to provide a more well-rounded patient experience.
- According to the Global Market Insights report, telemedicine will be worth about $175.5 billion by 2026. These extraordinary numbers undoubtedly indicate the need for telemedicine now and in the future.
- A 2018 Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center study found that 47 percent of people interviewed used telehealth for behavioral healthcare.
- According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), about 76% of healthcare institutions used telehealth in 2017.
- From 2014 to 2018, based on the data by FAIR Health, provider-to-patient employment of telehealth in nonhospital settings increased by about 1400%.
- According to a study by the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), telemedicine services are as good and of high quality as those delivered via traditional in-person consultations.
The Benefits of Offering Telemedicine Services
Healthcare institutions worldwide are seeing the vast benefits of offering more extensive telehealth services. Efficiency improvement, revenue growth, and cost reduction are all benefits commonly experienced with expanding telehealth services.
Let’s take a closer look.
Better Patient Access
In today’s healthcare setting, convenience matters a lot. Adding virtual care or telemedicine services to a medical practice offers patients easy, on-demand care – without the typical wasted time and costs associated with in-person visits. Patients who reside in remote areas or who are homebound can quickly access care virtually.
Smartphone apps, video conferencing, and online management systems connect providers with patients conveniently and remotely, which supports the continued growth and expansion of patient care accessibility.
Remote monitoring solutions and electronic data storage considerably cut healthcare service costs, saving lots of money for healthcare institutions and their patients. Telehealth contributes to reducing unnecessary non-urgent ER visits, cutting overhead for health centers, and saving transportation costs for visiting patients.
A 2019 Health leaders report states, “Diverting patients from emergency departments with telemedicine can save more than $1,500 per visit.”
Improved Specialist Care
With telehealth, patients in remote or rural locations benefit from quicker and more convenient specialist access. For every 100,000 patients located in rural areas, about 43 medical specialists are available.
Unfortunately, these patients undergo long appointment commutes and have difficulty accessing lifesaving consultations for chronic diseases. Telemedicine facilitates better access to more specialists. Patients can be referred to any specific specialist they require, regardless of the location.
Increased Patient Engagement
Engaging your patients via telehealth can help them maintain care schedules and appointments. Also, it reassures patients that their preferred providers are available and concerned about their well-being. Most importantly, it makes it relatively effortless for patients to reach out with questions, report early warning symptoms, and schedule a follow-up appointment to ensure they are on track.
The Role Electronic Signatures Play in Telehealth
Undoubtedly, telehealth plays a crucial role in delivering convenient and necessary healthcare services. But how do electronic signatures help? Here are several important ways electronic signatures have boosted the use and effectiveness of telehealth:
Patient privacy and confidentiality are a must in telehealth. Although it is up to you to decide how much information you can divulge, there are a few basic requirements patients should be aware of when it comes to telemedicine policies, particularly signing written procedures.
With electronic signatures, you can quickly and easily provide your practice’s privacy policies and obtain signatures of approval from your patients – all within minutes.
Patient Informed Consent
Patient-informed consent forms are similarly crucial as patient privacy forms. Patient consents generally garner consent for things like possible procedure risks, patient rights, practice rights, patient responsibilities, and telehealth failure notifications.
By implementing the use of electronic signature software, healthcare institutions have the capability of providing critical information and gathering patient consent quickly and digitally.
Patient Identity Confirmation
Effectively verifying and confirming patient identity is essential in preventing fraud and ensuring patient privacy. With digital signature technology, healthcare providers can effectively confirm patient identity when sending and receiving important documents.
Prescribing necessary medications following a telehealth visit has always been challenging. Physicians can quickly sign and send prescriptions in seconds with electronic signatures.
When further care is needed following a telehealth appointment, physicians and patients will no longer experience delays in securing specialist referrals. Physicians can now quickly and securely send referral paperwork to other providers or patients in a matter of minutes.
All providers and healthcare institutions must abide by HIPAA privacy and security laws for personal health information (PHI). Because of this, compliance is a word that often comes up.
Electronic signatures do a great job of keeping healthcare providers in compliance during telehealth sessions through digital signature security and by allowing meaningful forms consent and privacy forms to be collected.
Electronic software solutions like Foxit eSign undoubtedly increase the integrity, availability, privacy, authenticity, and reliability of signatures and records. Not only are we HIPAA certified, but our technology allows users to digitally sign documents in full compliance with HIPAA, the ESIGN Act, and UETA.