4 Benefits of Chronic Disease Management by Telemedicine

Chronic disease management is changing for the better thanks to Telemedicine

One of the most major concerns for healthcare providers and patients is chronic disease management. If a disease lasts for longer than 3 months, it is considered chronic. The most common chronic diseases include heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. The most recent studies show that approximately 133 million Americans suffer from some type of chronic disease – which is about 40% of the entire US population. And for 2020 this figure is expected to go up to 157 million.

About 50% of adults suffer from some type of chronic disease and almost 30% of the population has more than one chronic condition. Cancer, diabetes, stroke, hypertension, pulmonary conditions, mental illness, and heart disease have the most significant impact on the US economy of $1.3 trillion annually.

Based on the statistics, these trends will continue, so healthcare providers are looking into ways of providing an excellent quality of service but at a much lower cost. One of the possible ways of reducing the cost of chronic disease management is Telemedicine, including remote patient monitoring. Through Telemedicine, with the use of live video and audio, mobile devices, tablets, and other smart tools, doctors and healthcare specialists can manage the patient’s condition from any distance. This significantly reduces the need for in-person consultations. So what are exactly the 4 greatest benefits of Telemedicine in chronic disease management?

Better access to specialized care

Approximately 57 million Americans now live in rural areas and many patients, that is across the country lack access to healthcare facilities. Some of them even need to drive long distances to see their primary physician or a specialist and those are scares in rural areas. Also, most patients with chronic conditions are having difficulties traveling long distances in order to see a specialist or primary healthcare provider. Some of them have limited mobility or maybe have trouble sitting for a longer period. Specialized care is something that patients with chronic disease really rely on, and that’s not something you can easily find in some parts of the country. This makes them see their care provider on an ongoing basis extremely difficult.

But with the help of telemedicine, patients with chronic conditions can easily communicate with their healthcare providers, specialists and all that from the comfort of their own home. This greatly increases access to specialized care, while also eliminates or lowers travel expenses at the same time. Of course, some patients will see their physician or specialists if their condition worsens or if they are unable to see the healthcare provider on a regular basis.

Keeping track of patient’s lifestyle changes

In order for their condition to improve, aside from medication and other treatment, patients with chronic conditions also need to make certain lifestyle changes. These changes usually include getting more exercise, quitting smoking or certain changes in their diet. Some patients will have trouble following through with the treatment which only makes their condition worsen.

However, when healthcare providers are able to remotely monitor the patient’s conditions, they can also track if the patient is following their treatment’s guidelines or not. For example, when a patient overeats or hasn’t got enough exercise, the healthcare provider might have him/her to use a Bluetooth scale to see if there were any changes in their weight. With the use of mobile devices, live audio and video, patients can be reminded to stay active, to take their medication or to eat healthily.

Real-time triage

Chronic disease patients sometimes notice a new symptom. This can be a sign of a new chronic condition, a sign that their current condition is getting worse or just a minor concern. In some cases, if traveling long distances for an in-person consultation, patients will even fail to disclose their new symptoms until their health is much worse.

Through telemedicine, they will be able to consult in real-time.  Based on the severity of the new condition, the doctor can either change the treatment or advise the patient to visit the nearest emergency room. This way, the patient receives the necessary healthcare in a timely manner.

Low hospital readmissions

81% of hospital admissions are patients with chronic diseases and this is one of the most expensive aspects of healthcare. However, being able to monitor the patient’s conditions remotely, doctors and specialists can adjust the treatment regime and thus reduce the readmission to the hospital. With this, both the patient’s and the provider’s costs of care is reduced. Through telemedicine, doctors can alleviate any concerns that the patient has about his/her medication, keep track of the patient’s lifestyle changes and even triage new symptoms more quickly than before. All this resulting in lower hospital readmission rates.

Once the UPMC Health Program (covering about 3.4 million members in Pennsylvania) implemented a telehealth program, they saw fewer cases of congestive heart failure patients that needed to be placed in observatory units. Furthermore, Medicare members saw a 71% drop in need to stay in an observation unit.

Through telemedicine, healthcare providers can improve the management of chronic diseases. They can be in touch with patients ensuring that they follow the treatment and thus lowering hospital readmission rates. These digital tools really make it easy for some patients to consult with a healthcare provider.

Know more

Share this post