Chronic diseases are among the leading cause of death and disability in the United States. According to CDC, every six in ten people in the country live with at least one chronic condition while every four in ten people live with two or more. Chronic disease management is also taking a toll on the health care system by driving up the health care costs, causing concerns for medical professionals and patients alike. Fortunately, telemedicine can help change chronic disease management for the better.
Chronic diseases are broadly described as conditions that last for a year or more. Some of the most prevalent chronic diseases in the country include heart diseases, cancer, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, respiratory problems, and more. Poor nutrition, lack of physical exercise, tobacco use, and excessive alcohol use are all considered the major risk factors leading to these conditions.
With nearly half of the adults in the US experiencing symptoms of different chronic diseases, it is more important than ever to understand how telehealth intervention can lower the cost of chronic disease management.
These are some of the top ways telemedicine can improve chronic disease management.
Provide Easy Access to Specialized Health Care
One of the top ways telemedicine can help with chronic disease management is by reducing the distances between patients and specialists.
More than 57 million people across the US live in rural areas and typically do not have immediate access to specialized health care. In most cases, patients must drive for hours to visit a specialist, which can be troublesome. Moreover, as their condition worsens, most people with chronic diseases may find it difficult to sit or walk. Once it becomes tough to visit a specialist, a patient’s health might take a turn for the worse.
However, telemedicine can provide patients with easy access to specialized care. Instead of scheduling in-person consultations and traveling to far-off places, one can get in touch with their health care provider through a mobile phone or another smart device from the comfort of their home. The doctors can also use telehealth platforms to provide specialized care to patients suffering from chronic diseases regardless of where they are located.
Help Manage New Signs and Symptoms
Often, patients living with chronic diseases don’t alert their health care providers about their new symptoms until their condition begins to deteriorate. Those who must travel to another town or city to visit a specialist usually ignore a new symptom since it’s only a minor inconvenience at the beginning. It’s never a good idea to disregard any signs indicating your health might be getting worse. In some cases, one may even develop a new chronic condition by not taking timely action.
Telemedicine can help improve chronic disease management by eliminating the need to travel from one place to another and allowing patients to get in touch with a specialist without any hassle. With platforms such as Telehealth Peer Wellness, patients can discuss their new symptoms with health care providers in real-time. This virtual consultation will also allow doctors to stay up to date about the patients’ condition. So, if a patient needs new medication or a change in their treatment regime to manage new symptoms, the doctor will know just what to do. Similarly, if the patient requires urgent care, the health care providers will urge them to visit the nearest emergency room.
Ensure Patient Is Following the Treatment Regimen
Chronic diseases such as heart conditions, respiratory problems, and diabetes require a drastic lifestyle change. To manage their symptoms and keep their health from deteriorating, doctors usually recommend patients to quit smoking, change their sedentary lifestyle by going for walks, and eliminate some items from their diet plan. However, most patients fail to realize that not following the doctor’s orders can worsen their condition – even if they take all their medicines on time.
Telemedicine platforms allow medical practitioners to monitor the lifestyle changes of each patient effectively. It also makes it easier for them to determine if the patient is following the treatment regimen. If the doctor presumes the patient is not doing something right, they can discuss their concerns and develop a better plan. Similarly, the doctor can also use video and audio calls to ask patients if they are taking their medication or if they require to adjust their timings. During these virtual consultations, the specialist may also remind the patients to include exercise in their routine, consume nutritious meals, and stay away from certain habits and foods.
All these factors combined can improve chronic pain management.
Decrease Hospital Readmissions
When a patient is readmitted to a hospital within 30 days after being discharged, it is called readmission.
According to a 2020 study, readmission is common among people suffering from chronic diseases, which can burden the healthcare system. It is also worth mentioning that chronic conditions never occur individually. Most people with chronic diseases are living with multiple conditions, increasing their chances of being readmitted.
So, how can one lower their chances of readmission? If you guessed telemedicine, you are right.
If doctors can talk to patients every time, they notice a new symptom or think their condition may worsen, it can have a massive impact on their overall health. Health care providers can remotely monitor the patient’s lifestyle choices and keep an eye on whether their condition has improved after being discharged. They can also suggest changes in their treatment if they believe the patient may still not be feeling well.
This practice can save the patients from experiencing more pain and prevent them from spending a significant chunk of their savings on hospital bills.
On a Final Note
Regardless of where they live, patients living with chronic conditions can now get in touch with their doctors and specialists with a few clicks on their mobile phones. Moreover, with telemedicine, health care providers can manage the new symptoms of chronic diseases more effectively and suggest lifestyle changes that may help the patients. They can also remotely monitor if the patient is following the treatment regimen or needs immediate medical attention.
If you are looking for a HIPAA-compliant telemedicine platform, please look at Telehealth Peer Wellness and request a demo.