With technology rapidly making various parts of our everyday lives more efficient, it is only natural that healthcare be included. Though the idea of telehealth has been around for over 90 years, this field has recently expanded. This is because with better access to technology, comes better access to care. Continuwell is a new telehealth service that can connect your employees or members to a certified medical professional, for access to quality medical care anytime, anywhere.
Telehealth has become the inexpensive way to receive the quality medical advice one needs, without having to leave the office or home. As defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Telehealth is the use of technology to deliver health care, health information or health education at a distance.”
The History of Telehealth
In the Institute of Medicine’s book, Telemedicine: A Guide to Assessing Telecommunications in Health Care, a concept of telehealth is depicted on a magazine cover for Radio News in April of 1924. This illustration depicts children gathered around their television meeting with a “radio doctor”. This was three years before the first television transmission even occurred. Ninety years later, you are able to communicate with a trained medical professional in the palm of your hand, like on the Continuwell app for mobile phones.
Today, the term telehealth covers a variety of health care services, including but not limited to:
- Video, telephone, or online nurse or doctor visits
- Remote monitoring of vital signs, such as blood pressure, or symptoms
- Online health information and self-management tools
- Email and online communication with health care providers
- Electronic health records
As a measure of how rapidly telemedicine is spreading, the American Telemedicine Association reported that more than 15 million Americans received some kind of medical care remotely in 2015. Those numbers are expected to be 30 percent higher in 2016.
The American Hospital Association found that:
- 74 percent of U.S. consumers would use telehealth services
- 76 percent of patients prioritize access to care over the need for human interactions with their health care providers
- 70 percent of patients are comfortable communicating with their healthcare providers via text, e-mail or video, in lieu of seeing them in person
- 30 percent of patients already use computers or mobile devices to check for medical or diagnostic information
The constant evolution of technology means that the rules defining and regulating telemedicine are in constant change and can be different from state to state. Continuwell’s nurse-first model is a great example of telehealth products adapting to meet consumer needs to increase utilization.
Telehealth and Wellness Benefits for Companies
In 2014, 22 percent of employers adopted telehealth solutions for their employees. That percentage is projected to increase 68 percent, based on a Towers Watson survey. This increase is not surprising, considering the financial benefits for employers. Towers Watson, a global professional services company, also projects that telehealth services, like Continuwell, could lead to more than $6 billion a year in healthcare savings to U.S. companies. Not only does having a telehealth provider available 24 hours a day decrease the number of sick days and the time off to see a doctor, several studies show that at least two ER visits can be avoided for every 10 telehealth phone calls. This translates to significant cost savings for both employers and employees.
The challenge, however, has been to get the employees to call the telehealth lines. Continuwell solves employees’ concerns by having a free nurse available to evaluate their symptoms. Continuwell nurses use doctor-written guidelines to evaluate callers and determine the best care advice for them. Three out of four callers are able to get a resolution for their symptoms without needing a telemedicine doctor. You can connect to a licensed Registered Nurse through the convenience of your computer, tablet, or smartphone. The nurse will answer your questions and help you get the treatment you need.
As technology evolves, so does the field of telehealth, and Continuwell will be leading the way for its members. Continuwell services provide both employers and employees with a convenient and affordable healthcare solution. For more information about how you can provide Continuwell’s telehealth services for your employees call (844) 258-HEAL (4325) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.