While telehealth and telemedicine were both expanding in use prior to COVID-19, it’s safe to say that the pandemic pushed them to the forefront of care. In many ways, these have been widely accepted among medical professionals as effective alternatives to in-person appointments. Obviously, most health screenings and tests can’t be performed remotely, but there are several types of healthcare services that can. Here are the types of telemedicine that could benefit your organization, and options that are available to help you with them.
Most of the questions that patients want to ask doctors can usually be addressed by nurses, and many can also be answered remotely. Whether performed over the phone or through a shared video call, triage nurses can talk with patients about their health concerns, as well as use Schmitt-Thompson protocols to evaluate patient symptoms and determine what types of care are appropriate. It’s worth noting that these nurses do not provide diagnoses, but determine which providers can, and how soon patients should be seen by them.
Triage nurses can also check vital signs taken by remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices as a means of early detection for potential health concerns. These devices are given to patients to wear while at home, and transmit substantial amounts of data back to their providers. Either in-house or outsourced RNs can oversee this review process. While RPM devices are primarily assigned to patients who are coping with chronic diseases, we expect to see expanded applications for them in the years to come.
Note: RPM can offer sizable reimbursements to providers. Take a look at how much you could save by implementing a program.
Telemedicine works well for doctors who don’t require standard, face-to-face evaluations like physicals in order to address patient symptoms and concerns. This applies to primary care physicians who are evaluating certain types of minor ailments, as well as specialists who base their care on medical information recorded prior to virtual visits. The latter of these is referred to as store-and-forward telemedicine, where patient records and health data (medical histories, medical images, test results, lab reports, etc.) from previous in-person visits are shared electronically with telehealth specialists.
Patients benefit from store-and-forward telemedicine when available specialists are located farther away than they can travel. This is particularly relevant for rural communities that only have PCPs for local medical care. (The obvious caveat to this arrangement — and indeed any telehealth service — is internet access.)
Which specialists benefit the most from this type of telemedicine? According to CCHP:
- Radiologists, who can be forwarded X-rays or MRIs.
- Dermatologists, who can review images taken of skin conditions.
- Ophthalmologists, who can evaluate eye screenings from retinal cameras.
Psychological and Psychiatric Telemedicine
Telemedicine is beneficial beyond the realm of physical care. Psychologists and psychiatrists have both incorporated this technology into their patient appointments and exercises with much success.
Patients appreciate these digital visits because they offer real-time interactive services that they can have at home where they feel more comfortable. Medical News Today also highlights how they can: 1) save on the associated costs and travel times of in-person visits; 2) be afforded more privacy; and 3) avoid communicable diseases like COVID-19.
Physical Therapy Telemedicine
While it might initially seem counterintuitive, even physical therapists are climbing aboard the telehealth and telemedicine bandwagons. How? While HRSA does acknowledge the importance of in-person appointments for examinations and assessments, there are still other aspects to therapy that can be managed over video conferencing. Those include store-and-forward PT, as well as patient instructions using “interactive 3-D models, videos and images.”
Patient Notification Services With Secure Texting
While CRMs like Salesforce are often used to follow up with patients after their initial visits and phone calls, there are other tools that can be used to get them more involved with their own health care. Secure texting and notifications can be used to keep them updated on callbacks from triage nurses, as well as the phone numbers they’ll be calling from. This helps patients avoid missing important nurse updates due to Do Not Disturb features and call blockers.
Note: Not all texting services are made the same. TriageLogic’s is ideal because it doesn’t require any complicated software downloads, and still remains HIPAA compliant and secure.
Benefits for Providers
The benefits of telemedicine for providers are often the same regardless of their types of care. Providers can see more patients in less time, utilize digital tools to reduce the associated work, and rely on triage nurses to manage many of the calls, concerns, and questions that don’t require their direct input. In many cases, those same providers also save on commuting and office costs if they’re able to work from home.
Types of Telemedicine at Your Practice
Are you thinking about offering any of these types of telemedicine? If so, TriageLogic can assist you with telehealth and patient data review through nurse triage, remote patient monitoring, secure texting, and patient engagement. Contact us to learn more about these available services.
TriageLogic is a URAC-accredited, physician-led provider of top-quality nurse telehealth technology, remote patient monitoring, and medical call center solutions. Founded in 2007, the TriageLogic Group now serves more than 12,000 physicians and covers over 25 million lives nationwide.