Telehealth for Home-Based Primary Care

Jul 8, 2020 3:02:51 PM / by Joy Youell

Homebound patients have limited access to quality primary care. In some cases, healthcare providers travel to them. For some primary caregivers, travel time and other logistics mean that they can only see about six patients per day. Telehealth for homebound patients is an incredible opportunity to increase access and decrease overhead.

Of course, there are obstacles to overcome before home-based telehealth can become as efficient as possible. These issues include things like usability, access and experience. If a patient does not even own a device capable of video chatting, it will be difficult to provide remote service. Fortunately, there are programs being created to overcome these obstacles and increase the benefits that home-based telemedicine can provide. 

Continue reading to find out more about virtual medical care programs, obstacles, benefits and the apps that are leading the way.

Virtual Medical Care for Homebound Patients

Through Staten Island University Hospital, a successful program providing virtual medical care has been launched. Northwell Health contains a Home Visit program in which primary care physicians visit patients in their homes. Usually, these provide elderly patients with check-ups, take blood and do other routine tests and examinations. It has been extremely difficult to get these homebound patients to appointments with specialists such as cardiologists or neurologists. The telehealth program is seeking to reduce that barrier. Physicians assistants will be with the patient the first time that they use the program to show them how to log in and access tools. 

Patients can call in from different locations and virtually attend medical appointments. Northwell has options for patients without wifi or capable devices. This program was launched in response to the COVID-19 crisis. While the program isn’t intended for permanent use, it indicates the reality that technology is rapidly catching up to the need for remote doctor visits. Using tools like these, patients can take control of their health and get an alternative for difficult to come by appointments. This program could even decrease the number of readmissions to hospitals by providing patients with the care they need when they need it.

Barriers to Telemedicine

Homebound patients may be elderly or incapacitated by a disability. This means that some patients will not understand how to use telehealth systems. In some cases, a patient may not even have wifi. This obstacle may limit accessibility. A solution is borrowed or rented equipment.

Most telemedicine applications and software platforms come with training. Additionally, some medical practices and specialists offer first-time, in-person training. This provides initial and ongoing troubleshooting when patients log in to virtual care programs. 

Technological Issues With Telehealth

Some patients may have the following technological issues:

  • No compatible smart devices
  • Integrations
  • Wifi access
  • No devices with webcams and microphones
  • Usability with apps and websites

Generally, these are problematic. Sometimes, family members can lend a hand. Other times, an aforementioned rental or training program can enable access. Providers are navigating the right solutions so that tech isn’t a barrier to getting remote care.

User Difficulties With Telehealth

The COVID-19 pandemic fast-tracked telehealth in a major way. Most doctor’s offices and medical providers around the country and world got in the game with their own versions of telemedicine. There are some challenges to these, as there are HIPAA compliance needs, encryption, data sharing and even cybersecurity concerns.

In addition to core telehealth or telemedicine apps, there are a variety of supporting systems that can streamline doctor patient relationships, even remotely. DocClocker leverages technology to help clinicians provide the highest level of patient care and attention. Through our programs, you can give your patients the ability to see wait times and check in remotely. Learning to use these new tools is absolutely essential for medical facilities. 

In addition to core features, DocClocker gives patients and doctors the ability to take notes and communicate remotely. Patients can write down in advance what they would like to talk about at an appointment, such as prescription refills or new symptoms. This can cut down on appointment time. DocClocker also has other great features like a doctor locator, waiting room management software and live operating room updates. 

Integrating easy to use apps with helpful tools and increased security is one of the keys to creating a successful telehealth primary care program. 

Benefits to Telemedicine

Not all homebound patients are elderly. Some have crippling chronic illnesses or incapacitating disabilities. These patients will require much more than virtual doctors visits. This is why it is important for these programs to implement different levels of care. Preventative care is an essential task to reduce time spent in-office or in the hospital. Patients can receive supportive care remotely that assists them with everyday issues such as taking medicine, physical therapy or discussing new possible symptoms. 

Some patients also have to visit specialists with offices an hour or more away from where they live. By encouraging patients to use remote care for regular check-ups, they can move those far away appointments to their living rooms. This saves patients time and money. 

If you are looking for great telehealth services, consider checking out this page with recommendations for different kinds of health needs: 15 Best Telehealth Services.

Healthcare Apps

DocClocker is a cutting edge healthcare app that offers many useful features including: remote check in, real time wait times and waiting room management systems. It also has a doctor locator program where patients can search for, review and book appointments with doctors. DOC-OR is one of DocClockers features in which waiting loved ones can receive live updates from the operating room. DocClockers amazing features increase efficiency and safety and reduce anxiety. 

Check out DocClocker here.

Tags: Telehealth, Digital medical, Telemedicine, doctor patient relationship

Joy Youell

Written by Joy Youell

Joy Youell writes about IT healthcare, digital medical innovations and improving patient experiences for DocClocker.