The pandemic caused a dramatic shift in how providers administer care. Reports from McKinsey revealed that global telemedicine adoption rose from 1% to 80% between 2019 and the initial COVID-19 peak. Because lockdowns prevented individuals from traveling outside their homes for care, providers needed to find new ways to connect.
Thanks to 2021’s vaccine rollouts, the population faces a lower risk of contracting the virus. In the same year, 28.8% of Australians had at least one telehealth consultation for their own health. Now that the worst of the pandemic is over, telemedicine remains useful for both providers and patients. Below, we’ll go over the many reasons doctors should continue offering telehealth services beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
Telehealth Is Safer
Though the threat of COVID-19 is destined to wane, the safety benefits of telemedicine are worth keeping. COVID-19 is not the only disease in existence, and placing patients within close proximity increases their exposure to harmful germs and viruses. By providing care remotely, telehealth prevents sickness from spreading within medical facilities.
Patients Prefer Telehealth
In 2020, only 9% of patients said that they availed of telehealth services, as reported by Healthcare Dive. By April 2021, that percentage rose to 36%, four times the previous number. The convenience, safety, and timeliness of telehealth played a major role in telehealth adoption. Healthier patients said that their telehealth experience felt highly personalized and effective.
However, satisfaction levels fall when providers deliver telehealth ineffectively. Many patients find that confusing technology requirements, limited services, and unclear costs sullied the experience of receiving remote care. So although the convenience of remote care makes telehealth the oft-preferred option, doctors need to communicate their services clearly to ensure patient satisfaction.
Telehealth Is Flexible
Telehealth lets physicians skip the daily commute and go straight to their appointments. By using telehealth platforms, physicians gain better control over their work schedules. For example, the remote physician platform Wheel connects clinicians with remote care opportunities. When physicians sign up to Wheel, the platform will assess their credentials, skills, and schedules, and then identify opportunities that align with their needs.
Telehealth Reduces Overhead Costs
When running an in-person clinic, doctors need to account for the cost of rent, utilities, and front-desk help. And because switching to telemedicine or reducing the number of in-person appointments lowers office expenses, teleworking doctors have the freedom to charge lower fees for their services, which can attract more patients.
Telehealth Reaches More Patients
Financial, operational, and physical barriers can prevent patients from accessing in-person care. For instance, 25% of adults in rural America need to travel at least 31 minutes to receive specialist care. In these communities, there are only 4 primary care physicians per 10,000 residents. India faces the same challenges, as staff shortages in the country limit the care healthcare facilities can provide.
Through telehealth, doctors can connect with patients from areas with medical labor shortages. Telemedicine improves health care access not just for patients in rural areas, but for patients in underserved urban communities as well. And because telehealth is more affordable, it provides a way for non-insured patients to access care without making financial sacrifices.
Both patients and providers benefit from telehealth adoption. By providing telehealth services, physicians can ensure patient safety, accommodate emerging care preferences, take control of their work-life balance, reduce overhead costs, and reach more patients.