Telehealth is a healthcare system that ensures health services to patients remotely through digital technology such as mobile phones, computers, and software. It engages virtual treatments, connecting doctors with patients through audio and video services. Patients share symptoms of their illness virtually and get treated by online doctors.
Advanced healthcare technology is not new in developed countries. However, it reached its height during the COVID-19 pandemic. Traditional walk-in or in-person visits of patients always carried disadvantages such as long waiting times and commutes. However, technological advances have pushed the virtual healthcare system to the forefront of medicine.
According to a survey report by the Provincial Health Service Authority (PHSA), telehealth in BC encountered one million virtual visits by videos. Online doctors in BC served many patients virtually without getting exposed to any illness. In 2022, the service improved dramatically and various online walk-in clinics continue to develop.
Most telehealth systems require some simple steps to connect and get service to anyone’s fingertips. Generally, there are three main steps for getting a telehealth service: information registration, connecting with the doctor, and getting a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Registering your Information:
Various online walk-in clinics keep the booking button on their website so anyone can click and register their information. Appointments are displayed virtually by the software.
Connecting to the Doctor:
Patients choose a specific time before booking their appointment. Then the designated online doctor calls or arranges a session to hear from the particular patient.
Prescription and Diagnosis:
After completing the session, the patient is diagnosed, treated, or prescribed by the online doctor according to the patients’ needs.
The List of 10 Benefits for Virtual Care
Traditional walk-in healthcare services has its place, but telehealth is quickly becoming a more popular option. Telehealth ensures less time spent waiting, cost-effectiveness, and decreased delays in care. The benefits of online healthcare are widely sought after; therefore, there is an increasing demand for the service.
Telehealth reduces the cost of delivering the service effectively. Patients save money avoiding travel to hospitals and clinics, and they don’t have to miss out on work hours while visiting doctors. Moreover, technological advancement ensures the service is delivered on time, and efficient treatment makes it convenient and cost-effective.
Government healthcare plans can act to regulate the service and delivery. For example, telehealth in BC is funded by the Medical Services Plan (MSP), which covers the majority amount of cost for the patients. In most cases, it provides access to a free online doctor in BC.
Time is a valuable asset for everyone. Wait-times for accessing healthcare are rising across Canada. Telehealth saves this asset effectively through efficient treatment, short and scheduled online sessions, and a reduced waiting time. Patients have to wait for the appointment, the visit, and tests in a traditional walk-in clinic.
Generally, patients travel to visit the doctor in person, consuming a fair amount of time. Patient Engagement HIT report says that one patient spends 45 minutes traveling to see a doctor. Virtual sessions by doctors save patients a significant amount of time. Another report states that the online clinics saved 800,000 hours of travel time last year.
3. Equality to Accessing Healthcare Service
The rapid growth of telehealth confirms the equal engagement of people in urban to rural areas. Every person is allowed to access and book their appointments at home. Besides, the MSP covers the visit for the eligible residents of British Columbia, so it becomes helpful to lower and middle-income people. Vast access to the service system safeguards the rights of equal healthcare for all.
4. Patient Satisfaction
Patient satisfaction reflects healthcare quality, management accuracy, and success of medical practices. Patient retention and the successful outcome of the clinic depend on the patient’s satisfaction. For a healthcare clinic, it is essential to match the patient’s satisfaction. Otherwise, it will lose effectiveness.
In the face of excessive work pressure and prolonged documentation, it becomes tough for a clinic to keep patients satisfied. However, online walk-in clinics engage online doctors to treat patients at the best possible time, avoiding inconvenience.
5. Better Flexibility of Doctors
Telehealth connects doctors and patients through online sessions. Virtual meetings are held through online scheduling, messages, audio, and video support. Therefore, doctors can easily take part in the sessions from anywhere.
Fortunately, a virtual check-up allows doctors to plan and attend their primary care patients from anywhere and anytime they can. That being said, more complicated and serious conditions usually require an in-person consultation.
6. Decreased Exposure to Other Illnesses
Doctors and patients have a high chance of getting exposed to other infectious diseases when treating illness. During COVID-19, many people got infected from hospitals and clinics full of infected patients.
Conversely, telehealth uses online portals, appointment settings, and check-ups, so doctors and patients are saved from transmitting diseases to another.
7. Less Pressure on Staff
Traditional walk-in clinics require a large amount of paper use, time management, room prep, and pressures related to patient management. These tasks are mainly done by medical staff, and it creates tremendous pressure in completing the visits when the service is in-person.
Telehealth decreases the pressure on workers because it does not require the same office space, room management, or prep.
8. Easing Pressure on Emergency Rooms
Emergency cases need more time for doctors and staff in a hospital. The time sensitive treatments, procedures, and care require prompt attention. In such cases, unnecessary visits and long lines for minor conditions create pressure on doctors and staff. You shouldn’t have to attend an emergency room for a prescription refill.
When using telehealth, the non-urgent visits are treated at home, so the patients don’t have to stand in long waiting lines and go for unnecessary visits. Telehealth allows for an online prescription refill.
9. Increased Clinic Flow
Telehealth is not only beneficial to the patients in decreasing costs, but it is also convenient for healthcare clinics. It generates better patient flow for the clinics and provides services to more patients in less time.
10. Improvement of Healthcare Technologies
Telehealth remains one of the best healthcare technologies in recent years, and people are using it more than ever. It is already using visual documentation and videos to receive patients’ data for treatment. One day, the virtual healthcare system may even include more advanced diagnosis and treatment capabilities.
The potential beneficiary factors of telehealth are huge, and it is equally beneficial for clinics. The system generates a patient care advantage as a whole. Online walk-in clinics in BC and the online doctors in BC are great examples of the multi-dimensional benefits of telehealth.
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