5 Ways Telemedicine Improves Member Engagement

December 17, 2015

What is telemedicine?

The American Telemedicine Association defines telemedicine as, “the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status.” Medical information can be shared with a variety of platforms, including the Internet and point to point communications. Not only can telemedicine provide immediate information about illnesses and a patient’s state of health, but it cam make the exchange of that information easier. Thus, members of a health plan that provide telemedicine services will be more engaged in the maintenance of their health, cutting down on instances in which sicknesses are allowed to fester until they get worse.

Types of Telemedicine

The most frequent use of telemedicine involves a person to person consultation through a two-way video communications system. A certified physician can perform an examination of a member, make some tests, and then consult in real time.

The most exciting and cutting edge aspect of telemedicine resides in the area of implantable and wearable sensors. A lot of chronic diseases occur without any discernable symptoms. These types of devices can pick up on trouble before physical signs become manifest. They are also great for monitoring bodily vital signs in real time.

Telemedicine also includes a growing variety of applications using email, smart phones, and websites.

Telemedicine and Member Engagement

Here are five ways telemedicine improves member engagement.

  1. Instant Access -Telemedicine allows people who are in remote locations, to have 24/7 access to a health care professional via two-way video conferencing. People who have mobility or transportation issues will hesitate to make an appointment to see a healthcare professional, or make an appointment and miss it. Two-way video conferencing with an on-call nurse practitioner or a physician’s assistant eliminates this inconvenience and allows people to have instant access to health care advice without having to leave home.
  2. Quicker Access to Specialists - Telemedicine helps the primary care physician have instant access to specialists, which also helps member engagement. A person with a heart condition, for example, would ordinarily have to make appointments to both a primary care physician and a cardiologist. In the case of telemedicine, a physician can remotely assess the member and forward results to a specialist, who can then prescribe treatment often without having to see the member. 
  3. Greater Insight - Telemedicine can give members an overall picture of their health status.  Video conferences between a member and a physician gives members insight and access to his or her own health care information. Any questions or concerns can be addressed during the video chat enabling members to take control of their health.
  4. Self Sufficiency - Telemedicine allows people to self-diagnose, based on readings from implantable and wearable devices. A diabetic, who can monitor his or her blood glucose level in real time, will be able to take insulin at the appropriate time, without having to constantly draw blood and use a test strip. Someone with a heart condition can note when trouble is coming, say an impending heart attack, and either take medication to stave it off, or call for an ambulance. At the same time, the primary care physician can monitor these signs remotely and will be able to take action if the member hasn’t. 
  5. Incentive for Change - Finally, telemedicine provides an incentive for the members who have been prescribed lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, to address a chronic condition. Members can not only note weight loss but also, in real time, improvements in conditions such as cardiovascular health and decreases in blood pressure. Such indications will spur members on to continue the exercise and diet regime that have been prescribing by their physicians.

Conclusion

Everyone wins when a telemedicine program is instituted. Health care professionals win because they can “see” and treat more patients in a timely fashion. Members win because they have easier and more immediate access to health care. Health plan administrators win because more ailments and other health conditions will be caught early and treated, cutting down on costs.

For more information on how MedXM can improve your member engagement through telemedicine, contact us.

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