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Telehealth Innovations and Their Benefits

The high degree of development of information technologies provides more opportunities for their use in various areas of human activity, especially in providing various services. Nowadays, the possibility of providing qualified medical care globally has become a reality thanks to the development of telemedicine services. Telehealth is an applied area of medical science that is based on telecommunication technologies with the practice of applying methods of remote medical care to patients. According to Haleem et al. (2021), nearly 75% of all physician and emergency room visits are either unnecessary or can be handled safely and effectively via telephone or video link. Therefore, telemedicine can be effective, helpful, and profitable with the right approach.

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Ohannessian et al. (2020) note that several issues can be addressed through the use of telemedicine technologies. Firstly, it compensates for the shortage of medical personnel in remote organizations providing medical care. Secondly, it improves the quality and accessibility of medical care. Thirdly, it provides an opportunity to organize therapeutic and preventive measures at the patient’s location, including hard-to-reach regions. Fourth, it contributes to the provision of prompt advisory support. Fifthly, it allows the formation of databases for the analysis, monitoring, and forecasting of the population’s health status. Thus, telemedicine has many significant advantages.

According to Haleem et al. (2021), on March 6, 2020, Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) expanded access to Medicare telehealth services. Thus, patients can receive a wider range of services from their doctors without visiting a healthcare facility. Several service providers, such as physicians, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers, may offer telemedicine to their patients. Moreover, HHS-OIG’s Office ensures healthcare providers the flexibility to reduce or refuse the cost of telehealth visits paid for by federal health programs. Before this denial, Medicare could only pay for telemedicine on a limited basis.

Patients’ home monitoring saves costs through lower readmissions, but clinical practice will lose money if exam fees do not increase margin and share capture. Thus, if patients and their families pay this cost, the patient receives the costs, while the insurance company can pocket the savings, which cannot create the mass market that these technological advances aim to develop. To accommodate telehealth, insurance companies will need to sell fixed-price per-patient policies to distribute the savings properly, allowing them to be mass-marketed. Membership in health insurance plans with capped payment is another appropriate trend that could help solve the telehealth problem. Nittari et al. (2020) assert that a 26% growth in managed care plan recipients from 2005 to 2011 indicates that these premiums may help increase the use of telehealth technologies. It ensures adequate remuneration for doctors and contributes to improving the quality of medical care.

It is important to consider whether the patient is in parity when determining how to bill for telemedicine. According to Loeb et al. (2020), 29 states and the District of Columbia currently have parity laws that require commercial payers to provide coverage and reimbursement for telehealth services comparable to those covered for personal services. It is a positive aspect for healthcare providers, as it signals that telemedicine will become on par with face-to-face consultations around the world over time.

Shaw et al. (2021) identify three strategies to promote health equity through virtual care. First is the simplification of complex interfaces and workflows. There is a need to implement programs that make devices available to patients who need them to participate in virtual care actively. In turn, it represents a unique cost for healthcare systems with unique implementation considerations. Second is the use of supporting intermediaries. Health systems and stakeholder groups will need to concretize clinical processes and develop effective training in the clinical skills that underpin fair virtual care delivery. It will also require investment in educational programs and curricula changes to enable healthcare providers to use virtual care equitably. Third, the creation of mechanisms through which marginalized community members can make an immediate contribution to the planning and delivery of virtual assistance. The development of educational programs, such as those aimed at initiatives to combat racism and oppression, will increase the level of knowledge about health equity and the capacity of health organizations in general.

Despite the existing but potentially solvable difficulties, it must be recognized that telemedicine is a tool that optimizes the logistics of providing medical care and reduces the financial costs of clinics. It requires the development of a specific workflow, including regulations, work schedules, and forms of protocols, as well as an assessment of the technical condition of medical organizations. Moreover, aspects such as training relevant staff in the field, budgeting, and developing performance criteria are also vital. These activities will bring together geographically disparate but functionally interconnected medical institutions that combine medical, diagnostic, research, and educational opportunities to provide medical care. Furthermore, the introduction of telehealth innovations will ensure continuity in the work of medical organizations at various levels and will create prospects for the formation of a single information space.

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References

Haleem, A., Javaid, M., Singh, R.P., & Suman, R. (2021). Telemedicine for healthcare: Capabilities, features, barriers, and applications. Sensors International, 2, 100117. Web.

Loeb, A. E., Rao, S. S., Ficke, J. R., Morris, C. D., Riley, L. H., & Levin, A. S. (2020). Departmental experience and lessons learned with accelerated introduction of telemedicine during the COVID-19 crisis. The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 28(11), 469–476. Web.

Nittari, G., Khuman, R., Baldoni, S., Pallotta, G., Battineni, G., Sirignano, A., Amenta, F., & Ricci, G. (2020). Telemedicine practice: Review of the current ethical and legal challenges. Telemedicine Journal and E-Health: The Official Journal of the American Telemedicine Association, 26(12), 1427–1437. Web.

Ohannessian, R., Duong, T., & Odone, A. (2020). Global telemedicine implementation and integration within health systems to fight the COVID-19 pandemic: A call to action. JMIR Public Health Surveill 2020, 6(2), e18810. Web.

Shaw, J., Brewer, L. C., & Veinot, T. (2021). Recommendations for health equity and virtual care arising from the COVID-19 pandemic: Narrative review. JMIR Formative Research, 5(4), e23233. Web.

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