Telehealth methods of care delivery have grown tremendously over the last 20 years. However, despite the growth of telehealth across the medical field, the use of telemedicine for neuromuscular or musculoskeletal outpatients remains less expansive. While historical use of telehealth for neuromuscular and musculoskeletal disorders has been limited, the access barriers faced by these patients combined with the high rates of clinician burnout in the specialty provides a robust opportunity for an expanded application of telehealth.
Of the nearly 500,000 end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients undergoing dialysis, only 12 percent receive dialysis in-home despite it being preferable and cost-effective to both patients and payers.[i] In a recent speech to kidney disease patients and advocates, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, Alex Azar, stated that Medicare was making a concerted effort to expand the utilization of At-Home Dialysis, including expanding telehealth services.
While numerous studies have examined the use of telemedicine within surgical subspecialties, there has yet to be a study that looks at surgical care from a broader perspective. A recent systematic review aimed to do just that by providing an evidence based overview of telemedicine in surgical care.
Telehealth presents numerous benefits to patients living with heart failure. As technology develops, an increasing number of clinicians will utilize telehealth to improve patient outcomes and reduce hospital admissions. A recent randomized control trial took a deep dive into the efficacy of telehealth with the heart failure patient population. The study concluded that remote monitoring interventions can reduce length of hospital stay and decrease mortality related to heart failure.
Telemedicine has the potential to improve care for patients with diabetes and significantly reduce healthcare costs. Telehealth programs increase access to healthcare and provide solutions to many healthcare inefficiencies that negatively impact patients with diabetes. A recent meta-analysis sought to prove this very point by comparing telemedicine to usual care among patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
The benefits of telehealth among patients with heart failure have been proven in the literature. Much of the research in this space focuses on using telehealth during episodes of home care. However, patients with heart failure can continue to benefit from remote monitoring after discharge from home care. A recent randomized controlled trial sought to confirm this hypothesis by exploring the efficacy of home telemonitoring with heart failure patients after the completion of home care.
Patients with chronic diseases are often burdened with psychological distress. The overwhelming nature of living with a chronic disease can result in stress and other mental health comorbidities that negatively influence disease management. Patients with diabetes, for example, commonly experience depressive symptoms and in turn have difficulty adhering to treatment protocols. These individuals are less likely to engage in regular glucose self-monitoring and are therefore at increased risk of detrimental clinical outcomes, like nephropathy, retinopathy, hospitalization, and death.
Hypertensive disorders occur in 5% - 11% of pregnancies. Gestational hypertension and preeclampsia can be particularly detrimental to a woman’s health and are the leading causes of perinatal morbidity and mortality. The consequences of these maternal disorders are magnified in low and middle-income countries. Mobile health technology offers a promising solution to the lack of resources that are available to women with hypertensive disorders during pregnancy. Remote patient monitoring can change the way care is managed for this patient population.
As the aging population grows, the number of people living with chronic diseases will continue to rise. Because medical advancements have increased the lifespan of these individuals, there is a consistent need for healthcare efforts directed toward disease management. By addressing the morbidity and mortality associated with chronic diseases, healthcare providers can improve quality of life and reduce hospital readmissions for the aging population.
In contrast to other fields in healthcare, substance abuse disorder treatment lacks a significant technology component. Telehealth technologies have yet to be implemented on a universal scale in addiction recovery programs. However, studies show that telehealth has the potential to transform and improve the way we rehabilitate substance abuse patients and can help to reduce the number of people impacted by the opioid crisis in the United States.