(BPT) – In recent years, we have seen tremendous advances in the areas of technology and medicine, along with more overlap between the two fields. Every year, new technology assists in the diagnosis, treatment and care of different medical conditions. As the new year begins, one new technology trend that you can look forward to is telehealth.
Telehealth uses telecommunication technologies like smartphone apps to deliver virtual medical, health care and education services. Some of the telehealth tools that we have already seen include services that enable you to have video consultations with your doctor without leaving your house and apps that remind you when it is time to take your medication. As an increasing number of telehealth tools become available, here are five reasons why they can improve and simplify your health care:
Telehealth saves you time.
Telehealth tools enable you to participate in audio and video calls with health care providers in lieu of an office visit. While some physical evaluations will still have to be conducted in person, many consultations can be held from the comfort of your own home, saving you time and effort.
Telehealth makes it easy to access health care.
For some of us, health care can be physically inaccessible. For example, individuals who have mobility limitations, are bedridden or live in care facilities can find it very challenging to get to the hospital or doctor’s office. Others who live in rural or remote locations may find the nearest health care provider is hours or even days away. In these cases, telehealth applications bring health care professionals to the patient virtually, providing care that that was impossible before.
Telehealth allows your doctor to monitor your health outside of their office.
Some health conditions require continued monitoring and care. There are now telehealth apps that allow health care professionals to keep track of patient progress and status. For example, patients can log their health status, such as their pain levels, in an app that is also visible to health care professionals, who can then initiate intervention as necessary. This way, your health is under professional supervision no matter where you are.
Telehealth makes it fun for you to take care of your health.
Some telehealth apps “gamify” your health care by making traditionally tedious activities more entertaining. As result, patients are motivated to comply with health care regimens and routines. For example, certain apps designed for diabetes patients use games to encourage them to monitor their blood sugar levels throughout the day.
Telehealth lets you contact the health care professional anytime without an appointment.
Sometimes, you may have health problems that, while not emergencies, still require timely professional advice and expertise. Apps are available that allow you to text or call health care professionals for just such situations. For example, the Signia myHearing App allows new hearing aid wearers to reach out to their hearing care professionals when questions arise regarding their new hearing aids or listening experiences. The hearing care professional can immediately offer assistance, or even remotely adjust the hearing aid settings if necessary.
While telehealth tools will never entirely replace the in-person care that health care professionals offer, they can significantly increase medical professionals’ reach, and help them provide better care to more patients.