Our healthcare system has seen many changes over the years, and although many areas still need reform, improving access to care remains the most important. Overcoming barriers to access is not easy, but telemedicine has helped address these concerns over the past two decades.
For years, the use of telecommunication technology in the medical industry has enabled healthcare workers to provide better patient care. However, only recently have we seen remarkable changes that have significantly improved access to care.
How Improvements in Telehealth Have Changed Care Delivery
The use of technology to provide remote medical services is nothing new. For decades, healthcare systems and practices have implemented various technologies to provide better access to care. However, the scope of telehealth services has remained limited until recent years.
Initially, telemedicine was primarily used for the timely management of urgent conditions. It was only an option for those who needed immediate emergency medical intervention. As technology has improved, however, along with recognizing the need for better access to care for all, telehealth services have also seen an upgrade.
Today, telemedicine involves more comprehensive care across various medical domains, including dentistry services, therapy, disease management, acute illness treatment, and chronic care management. Almost every practice area in medicine offers some form of telehealth services to their patients now.
It is primarily innovations in portable device technology and increased broadband availability that have made the improvements in telehealth possible. With smartphone apps, video conferencing software, and mobile wireless sensors linked through IoT, it is now easier than ever for healthcare employees to provide care to patients from the comfort of their own homes.
While this increase in telehealth services is largely thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic — which forced healthcare facilities to update their systems rapidly — we can also thank the push in recent years for better web accessibility.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) have enabled web developers and IT specialists to create websites and platforms with more accessible user experience design, including telehealth systems.
So now, not only have the services offered through telehealth expanded, but the overall user experience when interacting with these systems is also more accessible thanks to improved accessibility design.
How Medical Practices Can Continue to Improve Access to Healthcare
Though great strides have already been made in telemedicine, practices must continue to seek ways to improve healthcare accessibility. As technology continually changes and adapts to new demands, so must your healthcare facility and your employees. Your patients are your number one priority, and as such, you should continually seek to upgrade your systems and services to provide better access to care.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most significant innovations in recent years, right behind AI and automation, and it’s changing the telehealth industry as well. If you want your employees to provide the best care possible, adoption of the IoT is a must.
IoT programming and technology can enhance internal operations and streamline processes so your healthcare staff can deliver the highest level of care and customer service. IoT also offers greater transparency, allowing for an improved understanding of the workings of your business, so you can better identify other areas that might need improving.
Another great way to improve access to care is to seek feedback from your patients. They are the ones that these services are meant to benefit, after all. So seeking their opinion about what is working and what isn’t can also help you identify pain points and issues where there is still room for improvement.
You should also ensure your staff is fully prepared to use these new technologies and systems by hosting regular meetings and training sessions. If you adopt new tech without training your employees how best to use it, you won’t get the most out of it and may struggle even to see the benefits.
Telehealth services have benefited and improved care delivery in so many ways. It has streamlined processes internally, making it easier for employees to do their jobs while also making access to care more convenient for patients. And as innovations hit the market, healthcare will only continue to become more accessible to patients across the globe. But your healthcare practice must stay on top of these updates and changes to ensure you continually deliver the best care and service possible.
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