Telehealth is the use of telecommunications, including video and phone conferencing technologies and email, to deliver health care, information, and education to patients.
The topic selected for the research in question is Telehealth. Telehealth is defined as the use of telecommunications in health care. It includes video and phone conferencing and emails utilized to deliver high-quality care, information, and education to patients who cannot physically meet with their physician or nurse (Gajarawala & Pelkowski, 2021). The topic of telehealth implementation in healthcare was selected as many healthcare facilities were forced to adapt to working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic (Gajarawala & Pelkowski, 2021). However, its use during the pandemic showed that it could effectively deliver care and the needed medical help to patients while benefiting hospitals. It should be noted that healthcare costs to individual patients and hospitals are often vast, with the number of patients assigned per hospital and per individual physician constantly increasing (Snoswell et al., 2020). It can be argued that the implementation of Telehealth can contribute to medical facilities being less strained and fewer care-related costs to the hospitals. At the same time, it can also ensure that more people gain access to health care and that their health and well-being outcomes are improved. Therefore, it is important to thoroughly examine Telehealth to ascertain its actual impact on the healthcare system and its actors.
- Reduced health care costs;
- Increased patient outreach;
- Improved health outcomes.
- Patient privacy concerns;
- Impossible to perform physical exams;
- Inefficient provider-patient relationship.
Research into the topic of telehealth implementation indicates that it has several advantages as well as disadvantages. First, Telehealth use for patient treatment and monitoring is associated with a reduction in healthcare costs to the medical facility. Specifically, this expense decrease stems from fewer health system-funded journeys made by physicians and patients (Snoswell et al., 2020). In addition, telehealth implementation can be financially beneficial to hospitals and lead to an increase in revenue. For example, Medicare Advantage offers coverage for Telehealth-delivered medical care, resulting in a rise in profits for medical facilities while not travel-related costs are sustained (Park et al., 2020). Secondary care use and related costs can also be decreased due to more patients getting timely care and conversion of travel time to clinical time. Furthermore, Telehealth is positively correlated with outreach to patients who experience healthcare barriers, particularly geographical ones. Research shows that it is associated with improved access to health care, enhanced continuity, and efficiency of care (Moss et al., 2020). Additionally, enhanced patient outreach translates into improved healthcare results. Specifically, the service is characterized by greater safety and quality of care and diminished healthcare inequalities (Almuslim & AlDossary, 2022). It also allows for interprofessional medical consultations and training opportunities resulting in better patient care. Nevertheless, there are several disadvantages to implementing Telehealth. In particular, technology is fallible, and thrid-parties can hack patient privacy and medical records for nefarious purposes, such as fraud. Furthermore, physicians cannot carry out adequate physical examinations, limiting their ability to accurately diagnose patients and potential malpractice and patient abuse concerns (Gajarawala & Pelkowski, 2021). Remote consultations with physicians can also prevent an efficient provider-patient relationship from being established and patients from showing little trust in their doctors. Thus, research indicates that Telehealth has substantial benefits for implementation but is correlated with significant disadvantages to patients and physicians.
Taking into consideration the research findings, it can be concluded that Telehealth implementation can be highly beneficial for developing countries. However, it should be noted that it also presents certain disadvantages to the health care system and actors within it, including patients. The research into Telehealth can inform healthcare providers considering the implementation of the services. In particular, insight into the advantages and disadvantages of Telehealth utilization can help healthcare facilities establish an appropriate protocol for examining, diagnosing, and treating patients remotely. For example, a thorough understanding of the drawbacks of Telehealth can help determine in what cases it is more beneficial to travel to the patient or ensure they visit a hospital in person. In addition, the research can help prepare medical facilities for technical difficulties and potential issues that may arise, including patient privacy and medical records safety. It can also be used to demonstrate to patients experiencing different barriers to healthcare the benefits of Telehealth, as some of them may view it as ineffective.
Moreover, further research on Telehealth and its effect on patient health outcomes is required. Although the research findings indicate Telehealth can increase patient outcomes, more research is needed to discover what factors contribute to such a positive correlation. The interplay between Telehealth-related revenue and decreased costs should also be further studied.
Almuslim, H., & AlDossary, S. (2022). Models of incorporating Telehealth into obstetric care during the COVID-19 pandemic, its benefits and barriers: A scoping review. Telemedicine and e-Health, 28(1), 24–38. Web.
Gajarawala, S. N., & Pelkowski, J. N. (2021). Telehealth benefits and barriers. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 17(2), 218–221. Web.
Moss, H. E., Lai, K. E., & Ko, M. W. (2020). Survey of Telehealth adoption by neuro-ophthalmologists during the COVID-19 pandemic: Benefits, barriers, and utility. Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology, 40(3), 346–355. Web.
Park, S., Langellier, B. A., & Burke, R. E. (2020). Telehealth benefits offered by Medicare Advantage plans in 2020. Medical Care, 59(1), 53–57. Web.
Snoswell, C. L., Taylor, M. L., Comans, T. A., Smith, A. C., Gray, L. C., & Caffery, L. J. (2020). Determining if Telehealth can reduce health system costs: Scoping review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(10), 1–22. Web.