Telehealth Changing the Healthcare Landscape
Telehealth Changing the Healthcare Landscape
Technology has played a critical role in improving healthcare access, caregiver efficiency, and overall quality of care. In recent decades, the average life expectancy has continued to rise across the world and people are living longer, healthier lives.  One such breakthrough technology that has changed healthcare is telehealth.
Telehealth Changing the Healthcare Landscape Telehealth, often used interchangeably with the term telemedicine, has become mainstream in the healthcare industry . But what is it? Telehealth is a term that encompasses healthcare activities that transpire through the use of remote communication, including health education, provider-patient interaction, and remote monitoring of vitals.  For example, a specialist can oversee the operation or treatment of a patient using live video streaming, patients can schedule virtual appointments with their doctors and eliminate the time spent waiting in the office, and patients with chronic diseases can have their vitals monitored outside the hospital setting. Over the past few decades, technological advances have made telehealth a real possibility.
Cellphones allow providers to schedule visits with patients, discuss health problems, and keep patients informed easily, without geographical limitations. With the introduction of high-speed internet, telehealth advanced by leaps and bounds. Some of its most impactful use cases have been in rural areas where there may not be certain specialists available within hundreds of miles. Prior to these breakthroughs, telemedicine was very expensive and had limited deployment.  Even after technology made telehealth more available it was not until 2020 where adoption became more widespread. With the onset of COVID-19, hospitals became inundated with patients, and it was often unsafe for patients to visit a healthcare setting in person. Staffing shortages compounded the challenge, making it difficult for providers to offer the level of care patients needed.
To supplement the increased demand on hospitals and clinics, companies turned to telehealth solutions and adopted these systems into their daily processes. In a matter of months, telehealth went from a “nice to have” to a “must have.”  As the integration of telehealth continues in the healthcare industry, clinics and hospitals are looking for better ways to interact with, evaluate, and treat their patients in this remote setting. It is not feasible to send patients home with large and expensive medical equipment or expect them to have the experience to operate it properly. Many healthcare providers have turned to remote health monitoring systems to track non-critical patients in and out of hospitals.
Remote Health Monitoring Solution Benefits Both Clinicians and Patients: Honeywell has developed a complete software ecosystem, known as Lifecare Remote Health Monitoring. The system connects to patients via wireless body patches, and continuously tracks patients’ vital signs including, heart rate, respiratory rate, ECG, temperature, and body posture. The data is collected and transmitted in real-time to the application dashboard, giving accurate and timely information to the healthcare provider. When strategically implemented, this system provides benefits for patients, clinicians, and financial benefits for hospital management.
Patients who experience extreme changes in their vital signs need to get help as quickly as possible, and with the nurse alert features they can receive that care more. For patients who are recovering without issue, having their vitals transmitted directly to a workstation reduces the number of nurse interruptions. At times, patients are no longer considered critical, or at risk, but still require monitoring. In these situations, patients can continue their recovery from the comfort of their own home. Geriatric patients are ideal patients for the remote monitoring system. They can maintain as much independence as possible, but nurses can monitor their vitals and respond quickly to an emergency.
Clinicians With the help of remote health monitoring systems, care providers can eliminate time-consuming tasks, such as checking patient vitals, and focus on providing optimal patient care. Currently, hospitals rely on spot check devices where gaps in monitoring can prevent changes in patient vitals to be recognized. With continuous monitoring nurses can observe their patients from a control station, or on their mobile devices, and receive alerts when patients are in need and can respond quickly. Doctors and specialists can also review the recorded data to provide more accurate diagnosis and treatment plans, reducing misdiagnosis and repeat customer visits.
Hospital Management Being able to monitor patients outside of the hospital setting provides several financial benefits to hospitals. Treating patients inside the hospital is expensive, and moving non-critical patient care to the home setting reduces operating costs, but also keeps more rooms open for patients who require critical care. [BJ13] With the help of the Remote Health Monitoring system alerts, care providers can respond to patient needs and decrease the need for a return to the hospital setting. Developing infrastructure to enhance patient care in and out of the hospital setting allows hospitals to reach more patients, optimize care providers time, and give higher quality of care.
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