Have you heard of telemedicine? If not, please read on to find out more information about it and how it’s changing the face of drug addiction treatment. Telemedicine allows a healthcare professional to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients at a distance from clinics via computer technology. The telemedicine approach has been particularly revolutionary in the past decade and it is becoming increasingly popular with healthcare providers today.
Is Telemedicine the Same as Telehealth?
Although the terms may be used interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between the two. The term “telehealth” includes a broad array of technologies and services to provide patient care and improve healthcare delivery. Telehealth is different from telemedicine because it refers to a broader scope of healthcare services. Telemedicine refers specifically to remote clinical services, involving the use of electronic communications and software to provide client services to a patient without an in-person clinic visit.
What are the Benefits of Telemedicine?
Using telemedicine provides remarkable benefits to patients and is currently being used to change the face of drug addiction treatment. Telemedicine benefits include the following; less time away from work, no travel time or expense, patient privacy, less interference with child care or elder care responsibilities and no exposure to other people who may spread a contagious illness.
What are the Benefits of Telemedicine for a Provider?
There are many benefits telemedicine can provide for doctors and nurse practitioners. The benefits of electing telemedicine patient visits include; increased revenue, improved office efficiency, staying competitive with other providers, fewer missed appointments and cancellations, better patient follow through and improved treatment outcomes, and private payer reimbursement.
How Does Telemedicine Offer Better Access to Drug Treatment Providers?
Getting help for a drug problem comes in many forms, but it can be hard to access for people who live in rural communities. Those who have enrolled in treatment programs of the past were required to show up in person for assistance. In order to remove barriers to traditional treatment, telemedicine offers new options and easier access for those who need mental health services and addiction treatment.
What’s it Like to Seek Treatment Through Telemedicine?
Telemedicine providers use HIPAA-compliant technologies, which includes telephone services, applications for smartphones, video conferencing, and web-based tools. The most convenient benefit of using telemedicine services is the ability to receive help without having to drive a great distance to get it. The most common technology used for telemedicine services is video conferencing with a secure online server, which provides privacy and patient information is protected.
What are Healthcare Providers Saying About Telemedicine Services?
On September 14, 2018, www.whyy.org published an article regarding a proposed House bill that would require insurers to pay for telemedicine services and it is drawing widespread support from healthcare providers and opposition from some insurance providers. The idea of telemedicine isn’t exactly new, but if the proposed bill passes through the House, it’s about to become a lot more commonplace.
Senate Bill 780 aims to “authorize health care providers to use telemedicine and require insurers to provide coverage and reimbursement for its use,” according to the bill’s summary. It has already passed the Senate and will go up for the vote in the House of Representatives in the near future.
Dr. Judd Hollander, a physician who is a senior executive at Thomas Jefferson University says some insurers are already covering certain types of teleservices. By establishing regulations and reimbursement protocols, it will move telemedicine into the mainstream and make healthcare access easier for everyone.
Hollander stated, “One day, much like banking is just banking, no longer telebanking, telemedicine will just be medicine because it’s just about taking care of patients. It’s not actually about the technology.”
Why Should Drug Treatment Be Provided Through Telemedicine Services?
There are many reasons why getting treatment for drug addiction through telemedicine is beneficial, it’s convenient and removes barriers to care. Other reasons for telemedicine being ideal for drug treatment includes removing the stigma associated with seeking help, lack of access to providers in remote areas, and the costs of traveling to a provider’s actual location.
Not only do people have a hard time trying to arrange child care and taking time off work, sometimes transportation and other responsibilities are hard to juggle. It’s easy to ignore the need for treatment in the face of what may seem to be insurmountable obstacles, but with telemedicine, these issues can be addressed and removed.
How Can Telemedicine Make Addiction Treatment Better?
In addition to improving and creating easier access to providers, telemedicine provides a more holistic approach to treatment. One of the services provided by telemedicine includes cognitive behavioral intervention developed to address trauma and substance use disorders concomitantly. Telemedicine offers an advantage in its capacity to not only respond to addiction and its related behaviors, but it also addresses trauma and could uncover mental health conditions which drive addiction.
Another advantage of telemedicine for addiction treatment is linking resources with providers in the community. Small clinics and individual providers could gain access to expertise and secure technologies, both could partner up to meet the needs of the local community, no matter what the location may be.
How Can You Convince an Addicted Person to Try Telemedicine?
If you or someone you know needs help for drug addiction, just suggesting telemedicine could make all the difference in the world. Just knowing there is no need to travel hundreds of miles, no need to contact a child care provider, no reason to call off work and no visit to a clinic to get help could be enough to convince someone to be open to treatment.
When someone has been considering treatment and is resistant because of barriers, just knowing telemedicine could be helpful is often enough to change their mindset. Telemedicine is changing the face of medical treatment and this includes addiction medicine. Don’t let anything stop you from getting help because, in the end, it’s the best choice you can ever make.