Is It Worth Investing In Multilingual Telemedicine?

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There was a 154% increase in telehealth visits during the final week of March 2020 compared to the previous year. There’s one word that can explain that tremendous increase.

Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic forced most of the world to go into lockdowns. But there are things that cannot wait and that includes seeking medical help. Many patients discovered the convenience of telemedicine. For medical professionals, the question now is whether it is worth investing in telemedicine.

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Telemedicine 101

In simple terms, telemedicine is the practice of providing medical services through an electronic device that transmits audio and video. In most cases, telemedicine requires real-time communication between the patient and the doctor. 

In the past, telemedicine consisted of phone calls to the doctor for cases that did not require the doctor to see the patient. It is also a way for patients to get treatment even when the clinic is closed. 

Telehealth, Telemedicine and Virtual Care

There might be some confusion regarding telehealth, telemedicine and virtual care. These three are not the same thing and it’s important to define them. Telehealth is the umbrella term for healthcare services that are rendered remotely. On the other hand, telemedicine is the care provided by doctors and psychiatrists that are evidence-based. Virtual care refers to the interactions between healthcare providers and patients that are done through devices and communications like chats, calls, text messages, videos, and others. 

Translation Services and Other Support in Telemedicine

Telemedicine requires several supporting services for it to work. When treating a patient who is not English-proficient for example, he may need the help of an interpreter. He may also need the backing up of a professional translation services provider. Someone asking about proven peptides might not be understood if his/her first language is not English.

Many companies deliver translation services today but not all can handle the level of accuracy needed for medical care. Practitioners are normally told to go with established companies. Among the recognized experts is Tomedes Translation Services. It has a large number of practitioners leaving positive reviews for professional translation services. The main thing that they have praised is the company’s robust uploading system for translation tasks. 

Telemedicine also requires strong I.T. support since it is reliant on devices and the internet to deliver the care that is needed. When considering whether to start telemedicine, a practitioner should think about the additional services that he may require.

Delivering Telemedicine Consultations

Healthcare providers have several means of delivering consultations. The most common is through live video or an interactive video. During the interactive video, the practitioner will go on a video call with the patient. This is an opportunity for the practitioner to see the physical part that is ailing.

Store-and-Forward is the practice of electronically forwarding results to other practitioners for consultation. The transmission under this practice is more secure than the usual email. Then there is the Remote Patient Monitoring which is used by practitioners to check on some vital aspects of their patient’s health like blood pressure readings remotely.

Telemedicine Is Not Just for Simple Issues Like Asking About Proven Peptides

The common impression is that telemedicine can only be used for less serious health problems like asking about proven peptides and other matters. This is something that has held it back because even some doctors believe that it cannot match traditional means of giving care.

While that may be true in the past, the advances in technology have made it possible for doctors to deliver evidence-based care using telemedicine. As medical devices continue to develop and become more advanced, telemedicine will continue to be more relevant and not just about asking regarding proven peptides.

Investing in Telemedicine with Translation Services

There is no question that telemedicine will have a strong future. Even if the pandemic did not happen, telemedicine was on track for impressive growth. In 2019, 85% of hospitals and health systems have already adapted telehealth and a major part of that is telemedicine.

Those who support telemedicine point out the fact that it does not require too much investment. It requires spending on the following:

  • Technology and equipment
  • Staffing
  • Training
  • Program design
  • Additional support like translation services

The technology and equipment aspect of the program is the most important part of all. Everything will be reliant on that. The communication tools and the connection must be top of the line. Still, the main thing that is needed is a computer with a web camera, and those are easily obtained and readily accessible.

The staff of the practice must be trained to the new system and there should be a program or a process that will have to be designed to fit the needs of the practice specifically. They should be familiar with common health questions like when patients ask about proven peptides.

But while the main thing needed for telemedicine is easy to get and accessible, other aspects may have to be obtained by the practitioner. As mentioned earlier, the doctor may need professional translation services to support his practice.

Things to Consider

Several things must be considered when thinking of starting a telemedicine practice. The main thing of course is the ROI. In other words, is it worth it? Unfortunately, not all healthcare systems track the ROI of the telehealth programs. Only 46% do so. This means, there’s a scarcity of actual data to help your decision-making.

Another important consideration for a practitioner is the payment system to be used for a telemedicine program. It may require a new system to be set up which can add to the cost. 

Tried and Proven 

While the question of whether telemedicine can be worth it will depend on the practice and how the program is implemented, there is no question about its effectiveness as a method of providing treatment. 

The pandemic has demonstrated the effectiveness of telemedicine and that’s why there is a rush now to invest in it. According to American doctors, the top five uses of telemedicine during the pandemic are;

  • management of chronic diseases,
  • medical management,
  • coordination of care,
  • preventative care,
  • and hospital department follow-up.

The effectiveness of telemedicine during the pandemic has convinced health practitioners and patients about its usefulness. It can be used for simple issues like headaches and proven peptides and more complicated ones.

Starting a Telemedicine Practice

While the number of practitioners offering telemedicine is continuously on the rise, the more traditional form of providing healthcare will never go away completely. Experts see that the future of providing medical care will be a hybrid of traditional face-to-face interactions between doctors and patients and telemedicine.

If you are considering adopting telemedicine into your practice then here are a few pointers that you can use. 

Learn the Laws Concerning Telemedicine

Each state has its own set of laws concerning medical practice. What is allowed in one state might not be allowed in another. That applies to telemedicine too. For example, some states allow doctors to visit virtually while their patients stay at home but others will require the patients to go to a medical facility to have a virtual visit with their doctor. Also, there are states with strict laws about e-prescribing.

Another thing you must understand is what medicare will cover for. The restrictions for these have been eased recently.

The law in your state can limit your telemedicine practice. So, you must know what’s allowed and what’s not.

Technology Partners

As mentioned earlier, technology is one of the most important aspects of starting a telemedicine practice. You need to consider the technology partners that you will be working with to make your telemedicine practice a reality.

The good news is that these technology partners now specialize in dealing with telemedicine, which makes things so much easier for you. Companies have now created platforms that are there to cater to telemedicine. Zoom for Healthcare is just one example of those platforms.

When choosing a technology partner, you must consider the features they offer. One crucial feature that must be there is the capability to integrate with your health records. That kind of feature can make your records more efficient and clean.

Then there is the question of following the medical board guidelines of your state. As mentioned earlier, you need to check the state laws to see what’s allowed and what’s not permitted.

Because the tools you will be using will have access to your patient’s information and details, it’s essential to get some level of assurance about the level of security offered by the platform. You also need to look into the customization feature of the platform because you may want to change something for your practice.

Here are some platforms that you can consider: 

Chiron Health

This is a cloud-based telemedicine service platform that has all the right features including workflow management,  calls with video, calendars, and automatic appointment reminders. It also offers a virtual waiting room.

Doxy.me

This is a HIPAA-compliant telehealth or video conferencing tool. The platform is GDPR compliant so that means they take their data security seriously. If you are very security conscious, then this is the right platform to go for.

Whereby

Whereby is another robust platform when it comes to security and privacy since it was built in Norway where those are major concerns. It is perfect for video meetings since it does not require a separate software download.

Mend

Mend is a telehealth platform that offers a free version. It has scalable versions so you can try it out first and see if it matches your needs. If you are satisfied with its performance then you can ramp up your account as they have scalable enterprise solutions. 

Calculating the Cost

It was mentioned earlier that starting a telemedicine practice is not that expensive but it doesn’t mean it’s cheap. The overall cost of starting up your telemedicine practice depends on the platform or the technology partner that you have chosen. Additional costs would come if you will need chairs, tables, and other equipment like headsets. You may also need additional services like professional translation services or I.T. support.

First, you have to assess if your practice or your organization is ready for telemedicine, especially when it comes to the cost. If you want to keep up with your competitors, you need to invest. It’s no longer just having a webcam to call your patients. You need to accommodate all of your patients even those who will require translation services.

Be Ready for the Challenges

You have to be realistic when you are considering telemedicine. You are going to face several barriers. Some of those challenges include:

  1. One of the challenges that you will be facing when you implement a telemedicine program is the lack of reimbursement models. In a worst-case scenario, you may end up creating your model.
  2. You may face licensing and regulatory challenges when you are still establishing your telemedicine practice. Again, this would depend on your home state. 
  3. Because you are handling the details of your patients, there will always be the question of privacy and security. You need to take this matter very seriously as you are responsible for your patient’s data. 
  4. As mentioned earlier, there is no solid data yet to back up the claims that it can lead to savings and higher profits. Using telemedicine is more for the convenience of patients and providers but is that enough for you to implement a costly project?
  5. Patient resistance to telemedicine can be a major factor as to why your telemedicine practice can be held back. Although it has gained wide acceptance recently, some people are still hesitant about getting their medical help through a virtual meeting.

These are just some of the hurdles that you need to consider when you are planning your telemedicine practice. 

Once you have gone through all of the factors that you need to consider and decided on how you will overcome the obstacles, you can decide on the next moves to take. 

So, is it worth it to invest in telemedicine?

The short answer is yes. It is worth your money to invest in telemedicine. It can be used for answering simple questions like what are proven peptides and more complex health matters. Is it going to be profitable? That’s a bit more complicated as the verdict is still not definite. Reliable data for its profitability is still unavailable. Keep in mind that it will come with added costs if you want additional help like I.T. support and translation services if you want to expand your reach.

But one thing is clear: it will be more common in the future. By investing in it now, you are putting yourself ahead of other practitioners.

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