What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine, also known as telehealth, deals with providing on-the-spot virtual healthcare treatments to a patient by using technology when both the provider and patient are not physically present in the same place. The care can be in the form of any service such as online doctor consultation, or medication delivered and tracked digitally.
What is The Usual Approach Followed in Telemedicine?
A telemedicine app or service consists of an online network of healthcare practitioners, support staff, and pharmacists.
Every request is documented and provided with a care plan, sufficient follow-up, and self-management resources. Patients can choose a preferred mode of communication to stay connected.
What are the Types of Telemedicine Healthcare?
We can broadly classify telemedicine healthcare into the following three types:
Patients can book online doctor appointments and communicate their health issues with a registered medical practitioner of their choice. Patients can buy medications online and get them delivered to their door or office steps. The interaction can be through phone calls, text chats, or video conferences.
Patients can receive services from medical practitioners or pharmacists from different locations to fulfill their medical needs. Privacy is maintained between the two parties as information is shared only on a need-to-know basis.
Remote Patient Care
Healthcare professionals can track patient health remotely and monitor status. Patients can connect approved medical devices to enable easy sharing of vital signs, alerts, and medical data monitoring with the practitioners in real-time.
Why Use Telemedicine?
Deliver care faster - As per a global survey, Canadians have the highest wait times to see a physician. With doctors being available around the clock, telemedicine Canada brings that count drastically down. Additionally, this relieves stress on an already overbooked Canadian healthcare system.
Healthcare in Canada is free. But that does not mean that there's no charge. The Canadian taxpayer's money funds the healthcare system. By using an alternative without wasteful overhead costs like telehealth over physical doctor or pharmacy visits, Canadians can make a difference and utilize the taxpayer's money more efficiently. Additionally, patients can eliminate any secondary expenses like childcare, elderly care, and transportation, and avoid absence from work through telemedicine services.
The need for finding a specialist for consultation or locating a pharmacy that may or may not stock the required medications is no longer a problem. Any Canadian from across the country can reach out online for a doctor appointment, online pharmacy, and much more through their smartphones.
Telehealth services eliminate any waiting time. Patients can reach out to doctors without any appointments and in the comfort of their homes. To that end, telehealthcare helps to reduce fear, embarrassment, or discomfort associated with in-person consultations.
The information sharing between healthcare providers and patients is in real-time over the internet. Storing the data for reference purposes helps in future medical needs.
Increased Patient Engagement
Patients are more active and engaged when using telemedicine. Reduced hospital admissions and improved patient outcomes have been seen in Canadian patients that have used telehealth services.
The ability to have multiple disciplines under one app's convenience is enormous in itself. Preventive care, mental health, online pharmacy, and much more facilitate overall wellbeing.
What are Some of the Applications of Telemedicine?
As discussed, telehealthcare is a broad spectrum of healthcare services. Some of the most common applications of telemedicine are as follows:
Medications are a crucial aspect of healthcare. With telemedicine, patients can view online pharmacies, order prescriptions online, use online medication delivery services, set alerts for medications, track the status of medications, refill medications, and so on. Monitored management increases medication compliance.
Patients can clarify their health concerns by booking an online doctor appointment. Either the first time or as a second opinion, any patient should be able to obtain medical help when required.
How Impactful is Telehealth/Telemedicine in Canada among Canadian People?
Canadians are looking forward to telehealth services/telemedicine in Canada and are already seeing an impact:
- 70 % of Canadians trust in technology to enable preventive care
- Employee absenteeism per employee costs an average of $2000 annually in Canada. Over 67% of working Canadian employees said they would use telemedicine services if it were available.
- A majority of Canadians believe Canadian telehealth services provide higher quality care with doctor-on-demand services.
- When surveyed, two out of three Canadians rely on telemedicine for medical care outside the regular hours.
- A staggering number (~500,000) of Canadians require medical support to maintain their mental wellbeing. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, $51 billion is lost each year in the Canadian economy due to mental health-related issues. Telemedicine in Canada accommodates a majority of these requests and has proved to be clinically effective.
- Due to their effectiveness, Canadian employers and private insurers are increasingly supportive of telemedicine in Canada.
About 27% of Canadian workers report facing extreme stress on a day-to-day basis. Apart from the absenteeism mentioned above, working Canadians who cannot recuperate reluctantly drive productivity loss for the Canadian economy. Telemedicine improves work-life balance and strengthens productivity, decreasing the chances of engagement-related losses.
When it comes to healthcare, Canadians are one of the world's most actively engaged. The depth of such telehealthcare services is growing with an increase in virtual healthcare in Canada. More and more patients are seeking online healthcare services.
The convenience offered by telehealth services is for everyone, from patients to providers. One should not consider telemedicine a replacement for traditional methods of care but as an added support system. It is imperative to stay updated about telemedicine in Canada and use the 24-hour open drug stores when the need arises. Healthy Canadians will contribute to a healthier Canada.