Share Trends in Telehealth for Hospital PatientsBy Sarah Leitz | Published Aug 30, 2020 | 6 MIN READ Who would have ever thought we’d be receiving medical care through screens? More than that, could we have predicted how effective and practical it would be? Telehealth services have made a huge difference in patients’ hospital experiences. And the trends show that telemedicine is only going to continue to evolve and become more commonplace: a good thing for patients and providers alike. Below we’ve compiled a list of trends in telehealth and how they’re directly affecting hospital patients. 1. Greater Occurrence of Telehealth Services In 2020 alone, the telehealth industry is expected to grow 65 percent. Just ten years ago, telehealth services were unheard of. Now, hospitals are taking advantage of telehealth to provide patients with the services they need that they otherwise would not have access to. While telehealth has become wildly popular for at-home users and patients, we’re seeing a greater occurrence of telehealth services being provide to hospital patients, and the numbers are only going to grow. As more and more hospitals see the benefits of telehealth for their patients, the industry will see greater occurrences of telehealth services offered in the hospital setting. 2. Better Technology and Tools Hospital telehealth services are constantly evolving to better serve the needs of the patients who utilize them. Like every other sector in the technology industry, telehealth is undergoing innovation that makes it more accessible, both for hospital patients and their providers. There are tons of telemedicine apps that exist which make patient/doctor communication possible—and not only possible, but easy. These days, telehealth conversations can happen with simple and sleek equipment, such as a tablet situated on a non-powered cart. The software is increasingly easier to use, and the hardware is lighter and more user-friendly than ever, making telehealth communication approachable and less intimidating for hospital patients. 3. Greater Trust of Telehealth Services Telehealth services—and artificial intelligence—is gaining acceptance. More doctors are utilizing telemedicine than ever before, which means patients have greater exposure to these technologies. And with greater exposure comes greater trust of these services. When a patient is hospitalized, they must rely on their healthcare providers to make the best decisions for them. Patients trust doctors with their health, and if their doctor is confident in telehealth communication, a patient will be too. The more competent a provider is in utilizing telehealth services, the better the patient experience, and the more the patient will trust in their telehealth care. 4. Seamless Discharges and Follow Ups Most hospitalized patients have a follow up appointment after they’re discharged. For many patients, especially those in rural areas, making a follow up appointment can end up taking hours. Even if a follow up appointment is half an hour or less, a round-trip follow up visit can last the entire morning. However, telehealth services eliminate the need for travel to follow up appointments. Additionally, telemedicine allows for recently discharged patients to speak face-to-face with their provider if they feel that something isn’t going as planned with their recovery. Remote check-ins are easy, convenient ways for recently discharged hospital patients to get the care they need from the comfort of their home. 5. More Access to SpecialistsWe see telemedicine especially advantageous to smaller, rural hospital systems and the patients they serve. In facilities that do not have the means to hire specialized providers, patients would have to be transported to another facility out of town or even out of state. But telemedicine prevents patient transportation in some of these cases. Telehealth services allow hospital patients—and their providers— to have access to specialists that they otherwise would not. We are seeing a greater range of services provided to hospitalized patients due to the advent of telehealth services and virtual communication. When hospital patients and their providers have the ability to consult with specialists in other locations, patient care is better. Effective monitoring and quality of care is increased, leading to better patient outcomes. 6. Improved Connection with Loved Ones This is one of the greatest, yet perhaps the most overlooked, trends of telehealth services. As hospital patients are admitted and separated from their loved ones, this often takes a toll on their emotional health. But with greater utilization of telehealth communication, patients are able to communicate with their loved ones virtually, even if face-to-face visits aren’t possible. In the past, patients could connect with loved ones via apps on their smart phones. But for older hospitalized patients, or patients who aren’t comfortable with this kind of technology, hospital-provided telehealth communication allows for these patients to connect in meaningful ways. Having increasingly quality access to family and friends—on large screens with adequate volume—can improve a patient’s hospital stay exponentially. And when a patient is emotionally well, their physical healing can happen that much faster. 7. Market ConsolidationIt looks like this is the year the telehealth industry will begin to see real steps in market consolidation. And for patients, this trend toward market consolidation means better services all around. Improved hardware and software, new initiatives to make telehealth more accessible, and other innovations and investments means that patients will likely see a holistically improved telehealth system across the board. As telehealth becomes a more prominent industry, more resources will be utilized to make it more accessible and more helpful to patients and doctors alike. 8. A Contactless Experience While a patient’s hospital stay won’t be completely without human touch, telehealth does make a way for a contactless experience in some cases. In a post-pandemic world, patients can expect more and more telehealth services to replace in-person services, especially as they’re first entering a hospital facility. Providers are using telehealth services to screen patients and perform early diagnoses before they see them face to face. This can look like a patient being escorted to a triage room where vitals are taken, then a telehealth cart is rolled in so they can have a conversation with a doctor. Human touch is essential for our well-being as individuals, and practically, a patient can’t be treated without physical interaction from nurses and doctors. But as telehealth technologies improve and become more commonplace, they’re being utilized in hospital facilities to reduce the spread of disease right from the moment a patient enters through the doors. Conclusion Telehealth services are truly changing the landscape of how hospital patients receive care. From emotional to physical well-being, to convenience, and even the level of expertise patients have access to, telemedicine services have universally improved the patient experience. As we see telehealth become more prevalent and more advanced, we’ll also see hospital patients’ benefit from higher levels of care and hopefully, as a result, improved health.