There's no question about the impact telemedicine is having on the American healthcare system. From providing greater access to care for patients to reducing overall costs for both health systems and patients, there's many benefits to implementing telemedicine in patient care.
And patients around the country are taking notice.
In a new poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, approximately 90 percent of adults ages 40 and older would be comfortable using one type of telemedicine for themselves or an aging loved one.
However, it appears several adults still can't shake the stigma attached to telemedicine. The new poll also revealed 50 percent of adults would be concerned about telemedicine leading to lower quality care.
Fortunately, telemedicine has proven to do the opposite. Aging adults, especially, should be able to benefit from virtual care, given the significant impact its had on managing chronic conditions.
According to the National Health Council, about 40 million Americans are limited in their usual activities due to one or more chronic health conditions. The problem isn't expected to get better anytime soon, either. Generally incurable and ongoing, chronic diseases affect approximately 133 million Americans, representing more than 40% of the total population of this country.2 By 2020, that number is projected to grow to an estimated 157 million, with 81 million having multiple conditions.
From a financial perspective, chronic disease is costliest issue in the American healthcare system, representing 86 percent of the system's $2.7 trillion in annual healthcare expenditures.
Telemedicine breaks down several traditional barriers of health care. By increasing access to care for patients in both urban and rural areas, a much larger portion of the population is able to receive the specialized or follow-up care necessary to treat various illnesses - chronic or emergent - and help keep costs down.
Furthermore, telemedicine also reduces costs in the healthcare system by limiting travel costs, managing care more efficiently through effective care coordination and fewer or shorter hospital stays.
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