As health systems have adjusted their workflows to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, they have discovered increasing value in telehealth solutions that will continue to offer benefits long after the crisis has passed.
Among the most significant will be the way in which telehealth technologies enable providers to address chronic diseases – the largest cause of death worldwide – more effectively.
A third of the European population aged over 15 already suffers from at least one chronic illness, according to the OECD and the European Commission – a statistic that is expected to rise unless lifestyle trends are addressed urgently. If telehealth solutions are to play a successful role, they will need to activate patients and enable convenient access to care.
Why patient activation matters
Patient adherence to a long-term treatment plan can sometimes be quite low. This might be due to simple things such as not taking the required medication or not following a recommended diet, which can have a negative impact on health outcomes and the care experience of chronically ill patients.
Research strongly suggests that keeping patients well informed can positively influence their disease status. When they are reminded to take their pills, for example, or are educated about why they should eat less processed food, they are more motivated to engage with their treatment plan and are less likely to be admitted to hospital due to a worsening of their chronic condition.
Accessing care when and where needed
Telehealth is not location dependent. It enables patients to consult with their physicians when they need to – often from the comfort of their home. Patients with chronic illnesses can receive quality care without worrying about transportation to the clinic or having to schedule an in-person visit in advance. At the same time, telehealth enables clinicians to manage cases without being confined to the four walls of their healthcare facility.
Bringing it all together
When a telehealth solution has helped to keep a patient educated about their chronic disease, a virtual visit solution complements the provider’s effort to effectively manage the condition. Patients can also receive care before they even know they need it: the care team can alert them in advance and a virtual appointment can be arranged easily.
With Siemens Healthineers teamplay myCare Companion, care providers will be able to set up their own programs to better manage the chronically ill patient population. This solution is currently still under development and not commercially available yet in all countries. It will aim to connect care teams and patients effectively, support information sharing and promote continuous patient engagement.
Siemens Healthineers has also introduced eHealth Virtual Visit – facilitating live video-consultation to empower patient and physicians to interact virtually with each other. eHealth Virtual Visit can be a standalone implementation as a quick response to a healthcare provider’s need to expand access to care.
There are plans to integrate it with the teamplay digital health platform as well as providing accessibility via the dedicated patient and physician portal. When telehealth visits run on the same platform and are seamlessly tied to a patient record, physicians, care teams and patients might eventually all be on the same page. This could be a significant benefit when it comes to the close monitoring of patients’ conditions and the making of timely treatment decisions.
eHealth Solutions consist of several products of ITH icoserve technology for healthcare GmbH – a Siemens Healthineers Company. They are not intended to be used for diagnostic purposes, and are not commercially available in all countries.
The teamplay digital health platform is still under development and therefore currently not commercially available. Its future availability cannot be guaranteed.