Telehealth is allowing providers to deliver care to more people, in more places than ever before. From convenient direct-to-consumer services such as video visits to remote patient monitoring to virtualspecialty consultations, telehealth is filling the widening gap between patient demand and the supply of health care providers, as well as allowing patients to access care in their own communities.
For over 40 years, telemedicine has been used to bring health care services to patients in distant locations. Not only does telemedicine improve access to patients, but it also allows providers and health facilities to expand their reach beyond their own offices. Given the provider shortages throughout the world –in both rural and urban areas –telemedicine has a unique capacity to increase service to millions of new patients.
Reducing or containing the cost of health care is one of the most important reasons for funding and adopting telehealth technologies. Telemedicine has been shown to reduce the cost of health care and increase efficiency through better management of chronic diseases, shared health professional staffing, reduced travel times, and fewer or shorter hospital stays.
Studies have consistently shown that the quality of health care services delivered via telemedicine are as good as those given in traditional in-person consultations. In some specialties, particularly in mental health and ICU care, telemedicine delivers a superior product, with greater outcomes and patient satisfaction.
Consumers want telemedicine. The greatest impact of telemedicine is on patients, their families and their community. This technology reduces travel time and related stresses for the patient. Over the past 15 years, study after study has documented patient satisfaction and support for telemedical services.