Due to all the changes technology has brought to our lives, the world has changed for the better. Technology has impacted every aspect of our lives. In recent years this has become even more prominent. Remote care is one of the many inventions that has brought significant change to the healthcare system. It contains many tools that make it easier for us to control healthcare and access mandatory services. You should ensure you properly utilize it to get all the benefits it has to offer.
WHAT IS TELEHEALTH?
Telehealth involves utilizing digital means of information and communication such as computers to acquire various healthcare services and keep track of healthcare. It’s efficient in providing healthcare services when patients are physically far from physicians. It can be done in meetings on different digital platforms. It mostly depends on broadband internet services. You can use these digital services from the comfort of your home. Telehealth, also referred to as remote care, makes it easier for you to access medical services remotely from the comfort of your home.
The current and future market for Telehealth in the U.S. and around the world
The global pandemic has lead to a rapid expansion of the use of Telehealth visits. There are many healthcare areas in which Remote care has shown the long-term potential to enhance the quality of care offered to patients for better health and cut down on the per capita cost of healthcare. The number one way this can be done is through the utilization of remote analysis services.
Different services used in remote care, such as teleradiology and telepathology, enable professionals to function as a pooled resource. This may lead to better care provided at a lower cost. A lower coverage cost is accessible to low-providers around the clock due to the use of remote services. This is all achieved through fractional employment.
There is a high number of emergency room visits that are reported every year. With remote care, there are at-home triage services facilitated by healthcare professionals, including primary care physicians and nurses, through Teleconsultation. This terminates the need to be taken to the emergency room hence cutting down on costs. The use of remote care has been efficient in terms of cost in a lot of ways. The monitoring technologies that enable patients to be monitored on an ambulatory basis instead of as inpatients are efficient ways to reduce costs.
Inpatient services are very costly, and using outpatient services instead substantially reduces the high healthcare system costs. The remote appointments in which providers reduce the system cost by offering remote patients lower rates than what’s usually charged are another positive aspect of healthcare spending in the United States. These benefits and more are being realized consistently, not just in the U.S. but around the entire world. The future of Teleconsultation is projected to grow exponentially in the years to come.
Objectives of Telehealth
The following are some of the main objectives of remote care:
- Many people who live in rural communities aren’t able to access healthcare services efficiently. One of the Remote care’s main goals is to bridge this gap and make it accessible to them.
- You can also easily be able to manage healthcare individually.
- It aims at making it easy to get access to different medical experts.
- If you can’t access transportation or have mobility problems, it offers convenient access to services from where you are.
- Telehealth also enhances how patients communicate with their healthcare providers’ teams and organize how care is provided.
Why Telehealth is the future of healthcare
Telehealth is undoubtedly one of the technologies that will shape the future of medicine. There are many subsets in Telehealth that have helped expand its usefulness. For example, in teleradiology, radiologists can interpret images from all over the world and consult with fellow experts in the field. In telepsychiatry, care can be provided to patients with transportation issues.
The improved access to mental healthcare and the reduced delays can help minimize the number of violent mental health episodes handled in emergency rooms every year. Regarding telecardiology, early identification of cardiac arrest, arrhythmia, or congestive heart failure can save lives and reduce healthcare costs due to early detection.
Overall, there are a lot of benefits that both patients and healthcare providers can reap from remote care. These benefits also impact the overall spending by the government on health care in the United States.
Significantly reduces patient’s costs
Many people in the United States spend a lot of money when it comes to seeking medical services. Among some of the costs include parking fees, travel costs, among others. At the end of the day, when all the expenses accumulate, it becomes very costly. However, patients only need digital communication devices such as phones or computers and an internet connection with Telehealth. All the services they would have gone seeking are provided to them wherever they’re. Most patients in rural areas who have to travel for hours to get healthcare services gain many efficiencies using Telehealth.
More patients get access to care
The United States has been facing a significant shortage in the number of physicians available. Telehealth expands the access of services to people, even in rural areas that often rely on poorly equipped rural health clinics. It provides efficiency for different things, including physician diagnosis as well as mid-level patient education.
Remote monitoring enhances patient involvement
A lot of emphasis has been put on finding new forms of interaction between hospitals and patients. It is to encourage them to take part in self-care. The focus is due to the increase in value-based remuneration and consumerism in healthcare. Patients need to learn how they can take care of themselves before going for their clinic visits. There’s a large number of people suffering from chronic conditions in the United States. Telehealth has enhanced the power of remote monitoring by enabling tracking of patients’ metrics from their homes.
Healthcare quality is enhanced
Most of the people who benefit from better healthcare due to remote care are in rural areas. Technology has brought about several great ways to deal with and treat severe health conditions. Services are provided digitally without the need to go into the E.R. for unnecessary reasons. Providers offer better treatment to patients than what they would have possibly received without it. The convenience offered is the main advantage since traveling isn’t a factor.
Patients don’t miss appointments
Patients in rural settings struggle with traveling to urban areas to get the treatment they need. This led to them not showing up most of the time. They had to be on the road for hours was one of the reasons mentioned for not showing up. This affected the revenue cost, as well as the quality of care patients, got in facilities. With remote care, all those problems are adequately addressed. The numbers have gone down regarding patients who didn’t show up for their appointments.
HEALTH CARE SPENDING IN THE UNITED STATES
To understand how healthcare spending is reduced by remote care, it’s imperative to compare how much the United States is spending on healthcare first.
Trends in health care spending
Health care spending in the United States is officially estimated by the National Health Expenditure Accounts (NHEA). Since 1960, the NHEA has been studying healthcare-related investments, national health activities, the cost of health insurance annually, and the annual cost of health care products and services. All the data collected is handed out by the services provided, the type of sponsor, and the funding source. By 2019, the healthcare spending per person had grown to $11,582 per person.
That is approximately a 5% growth and $3.8 across the whole country. Health spending covered around 17.7% of the national Gross Domestic Product. Before that, in 2018, it also spent twice the OECD average (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). Approximately 16.9% of the GDP went to healthcare spending.
Despite the size of the United States economy, a lot of money does go into healthcare. The spending is distributed per person, and all the expenses are included. A lot is spent on each individual compared to other countries. The amount spent per person by 2019 had exceeded that of Switzerland by up to 42%. Yet, it’s one of the countries with high per capita expenditure in health care. The growth in health care spending in the United States has been significant since the 1980s.
It has been mostly influenced by slow growth in the past. Despite spending a lot on health care, the country’s life expectancy is still low, and suicide rates are still high. Citizens also suffer from high rates of chronic diseases. Almost 25% of United States citizens suffer at least two chronic diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, or asthma, among others. This increases the rate of hospitalizations because the chronic conditions are seen as ambulatory and care-sensitive. Therefore, there’s an increased need for primary care.
According to statistics, many American patients haven’t been receiving enough physician visits over the years. This goes to show there’s a relatively low number of physicians. Other things that trigger the high expenditure are the use of technologies that are quite expensive, including MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) and other specialized procedures.
The country uses scans more than other countries. The United States also has the highest performance in prevention measures; this includes screenings for breast cancer and flu vaccinations. Many breast cancer patients in the United States survive compared to those who have cervical cancer.
How did Covid-19 change healthcare spending and utilization?
There were a lot of different views on how the coronavirus pandemic would affect healthcare spending. Other projections claimed it might increase it, while others claimed it would reduce the health expenditure. Earlier on in the pandemic, the use of health care significantly dropped, and telehealth dependency increased. Due to the measures put in to decrease the spread of Covid-19, in-person care declined, but it might increase again with the decrease of the pandemic’s severity.
The number of hospitalizations increased dramatically due to the increased number of Covid-19 victims, especially in the early days of this global pandemic. The GDP was reduced by 1.8% during the rise of the pandemic. This showed that healthcare spending was significantly reduced. Compared to 2019, the revenue from health services decreased by approximately 2.5%.
The Quarterly Services Survey (QSS) plays a big part in comparing health expenditure. Compared to the first quarter of 2019, healthcare spending increased in the first quarter of 2020 by at least 0.3%, according to data provided by the QSS. The health services revenue was reduced on all the services provided, except for social services and prescription drugs.
The revenue from prescriptions wasn’t as affected as the health services revenue by the coronavirus pandemic. It is because health services were affected by social distancing, among other factors. Healthcare spending in 2020 took a larger share of the United States economy compared to previous years. The GDP went down by -1.8%.
CAN TELEHEALTH REDUCE HEALTHCARE SPENDING?
Telehealth has effectively reduced most of the spending in the health care system in the United States. According to America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a lot of money can be saved using Telehealth; almost $4.28 billion in healthcare spending can be saved by states. Per every visit, $100 in cost savings can be actualized annually. This leads to the United States saving billions of dollars in health care, something that’s much needed.
Better surveillance for chronic disease patients
When it comes to patients, there are levels to how sick each individual is. Some people are seriously sick, and their conditions need primary care in hospitals. Teleconsultation alone is not enough in instances like this, and improper use can lead to misdiagnosed patients. However, others don’t necessarily need to be hospitalized, and thus the expensive hospital resources aren’t used.
For the latter group of sick people, Telehealth becomes very efficient. The patient can easily have consultations and even monitor their progress through a live video conference with a physician. Telehealth’s effective and new options can significantly reduce national health care costs, mostly from hospitals and the resources offered.
The health industry can now effectively use the human resources available as the physical healthcare resources are utilized more efficiently. There has been a significant shortage of primary care services to most populations, especially those in rural areas. Telehealth has been able to break this barrier since it has enhanced how healthcare providers provide services. You might be wondering how this helps in saving health care spending.
When healthcare providers can efficiently provide their services, they take less time to provide services to patients. Hence the cost is much lower. Generally, most patients who require any health services can quickly access the right care for them. This is done at the right time, place, and also with the specific provider they need.
Many investments have been made during the Covid-19 pandemics
The investments made towards it have brought about some reductions in the cost of healthcare spending. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, remote care has significantly grown in popularity. Healthcare providers have seen a growth in the number of patients they got through e-health than they did before the pandemic. Most of the spending that went to outpatient services, office appointments, and home health can be cut down since it can all be done virtually. Many providers have opted for remote care services due to the flexibility of commercial payers and Medicare regulations.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the total amount of revenue received annually by the major players in remote care was $3 billion. Professionals claim that after Covid, almost $250 billion used in health care spending can be distributed virtually. Providers want to transfer most of the physical services needed in healthcare to be provided digitally.
Legal restrictions have been lifted to allow better access to remote care
Several Medicare restrictions on remote care services were waived by the Hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state (HHS). This was for all Medicare beneficiaries due to the coronavirus pandemic. It enabled everyone to access remote care services even if they aren’t living in rural areas. It also allows the patients to use their homes as originating sites to get access to the services. The restriction that a provider must have treated a beneficiary of Medicare for three years was also waived.
This increases the availability of remote care services to patients across the country, hence cutting healthcare spending costs but preserving payment parity. The most significant advantage is that the benefits aren’t limited to Covid-19 cases only. They’re accessible to patients with different conditions. There is currently no federal framework regarding the administration of Telehealth services. Healthcare provides need to be mindful of the various state laws that may be applicable.
The list of ways in which remote care has benefited the healthcare system is pretty long. Apart from the ones we’ve mentioned, there are others available. Despite doing the health care system in the United States a lot of good, remote care services aren’t a guarantee that it will end all healthcare problems.
However, it’s a great way to improve many things in our country’s spending on health care matters. This is evident since it has allowed patients in rural areas to access good quality services. The number of hospitalization cases has significantly reduced, patients with chronic conditions are better managed, and patients can save up on costs and receive the necessary quality healthcare they need.
Therefore, Telehealth is here to stay, and its use will only continue to multiply. If it’s something you would be interested in trying out, start by doing in-depth research on your own or check our list of the best telehealth providers. Find virtual care solutions that will enable your access to care teams efficiently.
Remote care is here to enhance everyone’s lives here, and it will only get better over the years. It is undoubtedly a way to receive care worth considering that will ultimately level unequal access to healthcare. The USA and telehealth path is only beginning, and we suspect that health care delivery will dramatically change in the years to come.