Clinical Testing – The covid 19 pandemic has forced the medical industry to come up with unique yet distanced ways to conduct medical consultations and testing. While Telehealth was well established before the pandemic hit, the global lockdown spurred the entire industry to take up telemedicine. Being forced to consult with patients at home prompted the medical community to innovate ways in which they carry out telemedicine activities.
Telehealth has allowed for the space to introduce innovative ways to conduct clinical testing that are not only more convenient for patients but also lessen the burden on healthcare providers.
Innovations in Clinical Testing
Telehealth allows healthcare providers to screen patients before they enter the facility. Through online questionnaires and call centres, hospitals and healthcare facilities can monitor patients and provide them extra assistance should they need it. This allows the use of resources based on a need basis, increases patient convenience, and reduces time spent in the hospital.
The surge in Telehealth use has prompted healthcare providers to streamline their online appointment services. Today, patients can easily book a range of tests right from their internet browser. Medical consultation not only allows patients to book a test at their chosen time but also make the scheduling and work of healthcare staff easier and straightforward.
Telehealth innovation has prompted the introduction of tele-imaging through simple-to-use software and hardware that can be set up by anyone. One of these inventions is the Radiology Operations Command Centre, which allows radiology experts to train less experienced colleagues in real-time. This allows for supervised imaging right at the patient’s doorstep and removes the need for extended hospital visits for multiple scans.
Telehealth has allowed the monitoring of patients through a central hub at their healthcare facility, which monitors patients’ conditions and directs medical attention from the most appropriate setting. Doctors, nurses, and predictive analytics combine with video conferencing to catch signs of deterioration in a patient’s condition.
During the pandemic, tele-ICU allowed intensivists across the globe to assist their short-staffed colleagues in opposite time zones.
Healthcare specialists can use telemedicine and specialised equipment to monitor pregnancies at risk of complications and thus reduce patient visits and resources. Through wireless pads and disposal electrode patches, gynaecologists can keep an eye on the vitals of both the mother and the baby. This technology not only reduces needless physical interference with the pregnancy but also comes with the added benefit of being waterproof.
One of Telehealth’s most advanced areas is teledentistry. Popular even before the pandemic, tele-dentistry has evolved to become mobile dentistry with advanced applications for patients to connect with their dentists through. Tele dentistry apps allow patients to take high-resolution photos of their teeth. These can be analysed by the dental professional with visits reduced to only when needed. Constant contact with their dentist also allows patients to keep their provider up to date on their oral condition.
Telehealth Care Stations
The expansion of Telehealth has also brought up the concern of internet disparity in low-income regions. Most low-income households can’t access the benefits of Telehealth as they don’t have internet access. Healthcare providers are coming up with unique ideas such as the Telehealth Care Station to address this gap in patient care. Care Stations are specialised areas established in places with free internet access and high foot traffic, such as malls or retail centres. These care stations include private rooms with adequate telemedicine equipment like HD cameras and speakers through which professionals can examine patients and determine their care.
Cost and Access
In-person clinical visits on average cost upwards of $300 for simple chest infections. A telemedicine consultation, on the other hand, saves time and travel costs for patients; while providers benefit by saving resources and time. Currently, the US healthcare system incentivizes fees for service providers in a way that requires providers to be double-booked to remain viable with no room for same-day consultations. Telehealth not only reduces appointment times but also allows doctors to make more reliable schedules and bookings.
Future of Clinical Testing in Telemedicine
Innovation in telemedicine has come a long way with the leaps technology has taken. From software that can turn smartphones into EKG machines to tele-radiology, innovative Telehealth is leading the medical industry to new heights. However, the most important achievement of this innovation is the enhanced access of healthcare to remote and underdeveloped areas.
While Telehealth has reduced costs, patient inconvenience, patient travel, and unburdened healthcare resources, it still has a long way to go. The future of telemedicine rests in the inception of new clinical testing technology that can be used by the patient easily and the ways in which it can reach those that don’t have access to traditional healthcare facilities.