Over the past few months, there has been a dramatic increase in awareness of how doctors and patients benefit from teleconsultations. With the need to stay at home, those who have participated in telemedicine have come to appreciate its utility and simplicity when looking for treatment options. For those who haven’t yet made the leap into telemedicine, there may be a sense of unease in how a virtual platform can substitute for an in-person visit. However, teleconsultations can serve as a vital instrument for providers and patients as they navigate uncertain times while needing to have a dialogue to arrive at certain conclusions. 

The Pan American Health Organization defines teleconsultations as “interactions that happen between a clinician and a patient for the purpose of providing diagnostic or therapeutic advice through electronic means”. When does this method become absolutely necessary for parties to take advantage? While in the midst of a global pandemic, if a healthcare provider or patient is unable to leave their own home due to COVID19 concerns or if a patient is immunocompromised then a teleconsultation can serve as a bridge between the two parties to allow important dialogue to flow. 

Another benefit of teleconsultations is that it can be more user-friendly to the schedules of the patient and the clinician. Patients might conclude that they do not have available time to drive to a clinician’s office to sit in a waiting room for a consult that might only last 20 minutes. Patients who live in rural areas may live up to an hour away from their providers. According to an NIH study entitled “Why We Don’t Come: Patient Perceptions on No-Shows”, researchers concluded that “an average of 42% of appointments become no-shows”.  The study found that patients “who felt better and patients who felt too unwell to come failed to show”. The study also showed that “logistical issues” including trouble getting off of work, finding child care, and finding transportation, in “addition to forgetting appointments” led to no-shows. Teleconsultations eliminate the need for patients to travel to and from a doctor’s office and in the case of Beam Health, the waiting room experience has been eliminated. At the time of the appointment, the patient will receive a text message to let them know that their provider is ready to see them. Patients are invited to click on a link that takes them directly to their virtual appointment. It also makes remote patient monitoring much easier for the healthcare provider.

According to an NIH study conducted in 2016 entitled “Teleconsultation and Clinical Decision Making: a Systematic Review”, researchers studied whether teleconsultations between physicians improved communication. The study found that teleconsultations between colleagues led to “shortened diagnosis time, faster and better patient management, improving [the] accuracy of triage, reduces anxiety, educational value, Increased confidence, reduced amount of unnecessary procedures and improved level of patient management”.  Telemedicine isn’t just improving the line of communication between provider and patient, but between providers and in turn, this is leading to greater primary care provided to the patient.

In conclusion, doctors and patients can benefit from a virtual consultation. A virtual consult during visits can serve as a line of communication in uncertain situations, provide a user-friendly solution to busy patient schedules and ease the healthcare provider headache that is no-shows, and improve the dialogue providers have as colleagues when assisting one another inpatient care. Beam Health supplies a secure, HIPAA compliant line of communication that is easy to implement for the provider and does not require the patient to download an app or any software. Simply put: Beam makes telemedicine easy. Set up a demo with a member of our team to learn more about Beam Health and its offerings today!