Telehealth Helps Take the Sting out of Chronic Illness
Chronic illnesses plague nearly half of all adults in the United States, and when seven of the top ten causes of death are considered chronic it isn’t surprising that new technologies emerge every day to better manage these conditions.
Many patients are tied to weekly, daily, or even hourly management of these symptoms, and it is common for loved ones to spend their time and energy to help as well. The sheer time it takes to drive to and from appointments, to read up on home care instructions, or to decide whether a new symptom is worth the trip to the nurse is enough to overwhelm the best of us, and health care providers know that Chronic Condition Management (CCM) and Chronic Disease Management (CDM) are among the top concerns they will face.
Telehealth and remote patient monitoring are on the fast track becoming household concepts in healthcare, already proving their staying power in Chronic Condition Management by alleviating the travel burden and improving data quality. According to one 2014 study, telehealth reduced costs and improved care for congestive heart failure, obstructive pulmonary disease, and stroke. It is only a matter of time before the data becomes available for many other diseases as well.
Diabetes, for example, requires constant monitoring of blood sugar levels to ensure the patient maintains a safe margin. With new remote patient monitoring technology, an alert can be sent not only to the patient but to the doctor or the ambulance as well, lowering the work and stress for the patient and allowing healthcare providers to better do their jobs.
For congestive heart failure the verdict is already in, telehealth methods have been shown to result in noticeable improvements in health outcomes, fewer episodes of health worsening, and improved quality of life. And because integration between trackers and telehealth is on everybody's mind, soon something as essential as your smartphone could be re-purposed into a HIPPA compliant, medical grade health management device.
Chronic sufferers are no stranger to the waiting room, and spend countless hours driving to routine check ups or to see specialists out of state. With access to telehealth, patients can see a specialist located hours away without leaving their living room or answer routine questions with the click of a button. Rather than sink the countless hours ferrying back and forth to the doctor's office every week, patients can connect to their care providers with a system like TruClinic, a browser-based telemedicine solution that allows secure, video communication from any device with an internet connection and a webcam.
The more these telehealth systems can be integrated into the daily lives of the patients, the more time sufferers of chronic illness will have to spend on things other than their conditions, to live outside of the shadow of disease. With telehealth, chronic illness isn’t a life sentence.