Telehealth, or telemedicine, is a modern method of healthcare using remote communications to provide medical consultations and services. As you can imagine, the ability to receive professional healthcare from the comfort of our own homes—without ever setting foot in a waiting room—is rising in popularity. Convenience, accessibility, and cost effectiveness has made telehealth an essential tool in patient care. So, what does this trend of telehealth services mean for healthcare administrators in the industry? Let’s explore.
Impact of Telehealth on Healthcare Administration
Telehealth has single-handedly improved access to healthcare for many patients, particularly those in rural areas or in need of preventative care. It is transforming the way healthcare is delivered and managed, ideally leading to improved efficiency, reduced costs, and better results in patient care.
Now, healthcare administrators can manage healthcare operations remotely, while enhancing communication and collaboration across the healthcare network as whole.
Reducing Administrative Burdens
Telehealth eases the burdens of healthcare administrators. The real-time data encompasses patient issues, outcomes, treatment results, and resource allocation. Instead of manually tracking resources and analyzing treatment data, healthcare administrators can simply view an automatically generated report containing all the information they need. This enables healthcare administrators to make informed decisions regarding resource allocation, to further improve patient outcomes.
Easier Appointment Scheduling
Aside from the obvious—that patients may schedule and receive care remotely—telehealth makes it easy to set up automated reminders to patients for appointments. This reduces the likelihood of missed appointments, wasted time, and rescheduling calls.
Integration with Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
Using technology to schedule and perform healthcare visits is beneficial for maintaining electronic health records (EHRs). By integrating the systems and enabling secure messaging and file sharing capabilities, telehealth real-time data is automatically imported to the patient’s records, saving time and reducing the margin of human error.
Patient Information Access
In addition to streamlining EHRs for healthcare administrators, telehealth also puts the records in the hands of the patient—or at least in their browser. This allows patients to directly access their own medical records at leisure.
Thanks to the capabilities for real-time communication with telehealth, patients can also ask questions, receive advice, and get updates remotely. Together, these things reduce wait times and improve care coordination at the healthcare facility.
Improved Efficiency in Healthcare Delivery
Increasing patient access to healthcare services, reducing wait times and costs, improving provider efficiency and patient outcomes—these are just a few of the impacts of telehealth on healthcare administration. Ready for more?
Remote Patient Monitoring
There are many technological advances that make it much easier to monitor a patient’s condition at all times, without them needing to make an appointment or stop by a busy doctor’s office.
- Wearable & Home Monitoring Devices: Smartwatches, fitness trackers, and medical sensors can measure vital signs like heart rate, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels. There are also dedicated medical devices such as pulse oximeters. All of these track, measure, monitor, and report information about patients’ health status.
- Mobile Apps: There’s an app for just about everything these days! Patients use apps to track whether they are taking their medication, experiencing medical symptoms, effects of diet and nutrition, and so much more. There are even apps for tracking mental health conditions, helpful for those with mood disorders and more.
- Video Conferencing: Especially beneficial for patients in remote areas or for whom travel is difficult, video conferencing is a wonderful new healthcare tool that allows providers to observe and assess the patient’s progress from anywhere with Wi-Fi.
Improved Patient Engagement
In addition to EHR access, enhanced communication, streamlined processes, and reduced costs, telehealth can increase patient education. The telehealth platform has the capability to provide educational resources, self-management tools, and more; helping patients take a more active role in their treatment. This can also result in more personalized care, tailored to the patient.
Reduced No-Shows & Cancellations
It’s much harder to miss a remote appointment! Wherever there is internet access, a patient should be able to log in and discuss their treatment. This reduces the number of no-shows and cancellations, which helps healthcare facilities (and administrators) stay organized and efficient.
Better Patient Results
With so many positive improvements due to the advent and rise of telehealth, it goes without saying that patient outcomes improve, too! The more efficient a facility runs, the better quality of care the patients receive—and all of that is due to healthcare administrators taking advantage of the latest in technology.
Legal and Regulatory Considerations: HIPAA Compliance and Patient Privacy
Because it involves the use of electronic communication to transmit and store confidential patient information, healthcare administrators making use of telehealth must take great care to ensure compliance with HIPAA and all other regulations. A few of the steps healthcare administrators can take to maintain compliance:
- Secure Communication: It is crucial that any telehealth platforms used by a professional healthcare facility utilize secure encryption. This helps protect confidential medical records.
- Patient Consent: Before sending any electronic communications regarding a patient’s health information, the patient must give consent.
- Authentication & Authorization: Along with methods like 2-factor authentication, it is critical that only authorized staff members have access to EHRs.
- Data Storage: Stored data must be encrypted and password protected, another of many measures taken to prevent unauthorized access.
- Training & Policy: Healthcare staff must be trained in HIPAA regulations, the facility’s policies and procedures, and patient privacy laws.
While telehealth is an amazing advancement for patients and healthcare administrators, it requires extensive and meticulous work by healthcare administrators to ensure that patients and their data are safe, secure, and protected.
Challenges and Opportunities for Healthcare Administration
Telehealth obviously represents a major shift in the healthcare industry. With any big shift comes new challenges, ones which will be faced and overcome by the heroes of healthcare: the administrators.
Staff Training and Education
It is important that all facility staff are trained and educated on the use of telehealth technology and processes. Employees must understand how to use the interfaces and how to ensure patient data is kept safe and confidential.
Technological Infrastructure and Support
To properly utilize the advantages of telehealth, the healthcare facility must maintain a robust internet connection and technological infrastructure. There may be additional equipment needed for video conferencing. It is important that the facility invests in all equipment required, for the use of telehealth to be successful.
Patient Education and Acceptance
It is the responsibility of the healthcare facility and its administrators to ensure that patients are comfortable with remote healthcare. To assist in patient understanding and eventual acceptance, some facilities are providing educational resources regarding the topic.
Embracing Telehealth in Healthcare Administration
The impact of telehealth on healthcare administration has clearly been significant—and its capabilities are still being discovered! This technology has opened up new possibilities and will continue to do so for years to come. Will you be on the frontlines of healthcare administration as telehealth continues to grow and improve healthcare?
Are You Ready for Healthcare Administration?
If you’re interested in the rise of telehealth, consider earning a degree in healthcare administration. The dedicated professionals who work in this field strive to improve patient access to care, treatment, and outcomes. With a bachelor of science in healthcare administration from ECPI University’s accelerated, hands-on programs, you could be one of these healthcare heroes. It could be the BEST Decision You Ever Make!
DISCLAIMER - ECPI University makes no claim, warranty, or guarantee as to actual employability or earning potential to current, past or future students or graduates of any educational program we offer. The ECPI University website is published for informational purposes only. Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of information contained on the ECPI.edu domain; however, no warranty of accuracy is made. No contractual rights, either expressed or implied, are created by its content.