Apart from COVID-19, the term telehealth has probably been one of the most used buzzwords of 2020. Telehealth and telemedicine have been thrust into the limelight due to the Coronavirus outbreak and the healthcare sector’s efforts to expand digital health care.
Telehealth visits will undoubtedly be a novel experience for many patients, but it will soon become the operative norm moving forward as we approach a post-COVID-19 “new normal.”
In preparation for telehealth adoption as part of the new normal, healthcare service providers worldwide have committed to invest in new technologies. As they rush to meet this demand, though, there are critical issues to consider.
How Common is Telehealth?
Let’s begin by taking a peek into telemedicine’s development, which has been around for decades. Nevertheless, telemedicine has remarkably grown over the past few years as more healthcare providers and patients embrace technology and seek to provide a more well-rounded patient experience.
As per the Global Market Insights’ report, the telemedicine market will be worth about $175.5 billion by 2026. These extraordinary numbers undoubtedly indicate the need for telemedicine now and in the future.
- A 2018 study by Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center found that 47 percent of people interviewed used telehealth for behavioral healthcare.
- According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), about 76% of healthcare institutions used telehealth in 2017.
- From 2014 to 2018, based on the data by FAIR health, provider-to-patient employment of telehealth in nonhospital settings increased by about 1400%.
- According to a study conducted by the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), telemedicine services are as good and of high-quality as those delivered via traditional in-person consultations.
The Benefits of Offering Telemedicine Services
Healthcare institutions worldwide are seeing the vast benefits of offering more extensive telehealth services. Efficiency improvement, revenue growth, and cost reduction are all benefits commonly experienced with the expansion of telehealth services.
Let’s take a closer look.
Better Patient Access:
In today’s healthcare setting, convenience matters a lot. Adding virtual care or telemedicine services to a medical practice offers patients easy, on-demand care – without the typical wasted time and costs associated with in-person visits. Patients who reside in remote areas or who are homebound can quickly access care virtually.
Smartphone apps, video conferencing, and online management systems connect providers with patients in a convenient and remote way that supports the continued growth and expansion of patient care accessibility.
Remote monitoring solutions and electronic data storage considerably cut healthcare service costs, saving lots of money for healthcare institutions and their patients. Telehealth efforts contribute to reducing unnecessary non-urgent ER visits, cut down on overhead for health centers, and save transportation costs for visiting patients.
According to a 2019 Health leaders report, “Diverting patients from emergency departments with telemedicine can save more than $1,500 per visit.”
Improved Specialist Care:
With telehealth, patients in remote or rural locations benefit from quicker and convenient specialist access. For every 100, 000 patients located in rural areas, there are about 43 medical specialists available.
Unfortunately, these patients undergo long appointment commutes and have difficulty accessing lifesaving consultations for chronic diseases. Telemedicine facilitates better access to more specialists. Patients can be referred to any specific specialist they require, regardless of the location.
Increased Patient Engagement:
Engaging your patients via telehealth can help them maintain care schedules and appointments. Also, it reassures patients that their preferred providers are available and concerned about their wellbeing. Most importantly, it makes it relatively effortless for patients to reach out with questions, report early warning symptoms, and schedule a follow-up appointment to ensure they are on track.
The Role Electronic Signatures Play In Telehealth
Undoubtedly, telehealth plays a key role in the delivery of convenient and necessary healthcare services. But, how do electronic signatures help? Here are several important ways electronic signatures have boosted the use and effectiveness of telehealth:
Patient privacy and confidentiality is a must in telehealth. Although it is up to you to decide how much information you can divulge, there are a few basic requirements patients should be aware of when it comes to telemedicine policies, particularly the signing of written policies.
With electronic signatures, you can quickly and easily provide your practice’s privacy policies and obtain signatures of approval from your patients – all within minutes.
Patient Informed Consent:
Patient informed consent forms are similarly important as patient privacy forms. Patient consents generally garner consent for things like possible procedure risks, patient rights, practice rights, patient responsibilities, and telehealth failure notifications.
By implementing the use of electronic signature software, healthcare institutions have the capability of providing critical information and gathering patient consent quickly and digitally.
Patient Identity Confirmation:
Effectively verifying and confirming patient identity is an important step in preventing fraud and ensuring patient privacy. With digital signature technology, healthcare providers can effectively confirm patient identity when sending and receiving important documents.
Prescribing necessary medications following a telehealth visit has never been easier. Physicians can easily sign and send prescriptions in seconds with electronic signatures.
When further care is needed following a telehealth appointment, physicians and patients no longer have to experience delays in securing specialist referrals. Physicians can now quickly and securely send referral paperwork to other providers or to patients in a matter of minutes.
All providers and healthcare institutions must abide by HIPAA laws of privacy and security for personal health information (PHI). Because of this, compliance is a word that often comes up.
Electronic signatures do a great job of keeping health care providers in compliance during telehealth sessions through digital signature security and by allowing important forms consent and privacy forms to be collected.
How Does eSign Genie Support HIPAA Compliance for Telehealth Providers?
Using eSign Genie undoubtedly increases the integrity, availability, privacy, authenticity, and reliability of signatures and records. Not only are we HIPAA certified, but our technology allows users to digitally sign documents in full compliance with HIPAA, the ESIGN Act, and UETA.
eSign Genie is also ISO type II certified – a satisfactory level of information security assurance globally – and employs a reliable architecture that allows access on almost any internet-enabled gadget from anywhere. All data is encrypted at all times and, most importantly, each transaction executed via eSign Genie includes a traceable, tamper-proof, and court-admissible audit trail.
Wondering what all you can do with eSign Genie electronic signatures? Here are some document examples that can be electronically signed with eSign Genie during telemedicine sessions:
- Informed consent form
- Patient onboarding form
- Notice of privacy practices
- The transition of care documents
- Lab reports
- Drug prescriptions
- Insurance claims processing
Ready to see how eSign Genie can take your telehealth services to the next level? Give us a call at 408-560-3900 or sign up for your FREE TRIAL today!