Can Telehealth Be an Answer for Flu Season?

Every year, there is an illness that is contracted by up to 20 percent of the U.S. population. It results in $10.4 billion in direct medical expenses, $16.3 billion of lost earnings for those who cannot go to work, 32 million days of school for students, and worst, thousands of avoidable deaths—all on an annual basis.

The culprit? Influenza. And while it may be a common ailment, the evidence clearly shows its true devastating impact.

Fortunately, healthcare practitioners are finding ways to help reduce the blow of Flu Season through the introduction of telehealth technology.

How Telehealth Can Reduce Influenza Impact

Perhaps most significantly, doctors have found a way to use telehealth applications to diagnose flu patients remotely. This allows patients who think they might have contracted the virus to be certain without heading to an actual facility. This is important because such facilities can actually be a vector for infection, especially for individuals seeking treatment for conditions that may have already weakened their immune systems. Similarly, those who do opt to go to a facility, their own immune system compromised, may be at risk of catching another ailment themselves.

In one University of Iowa study, researchers found a 3 percent increase in flu-like symptoms in children and family members within two weeks of an annual wellness visit to a pediatrician’s office. Those symptoms resulted in more than 780,000 additional office visits resulting in a cost of more than $500 million. The CDC reports that, even in hospital settings, one in 25 patients will contract a hospital-associated infection on any given day. These cases could easily have been prevented had flu sufferers been diagnosed via a video conference and circumvented the office visit.

Innovative medical experts are also finding ways to take advantage of the data aggregated by connected devices within healthcare networks to predict the spread of influenza. As telehealth networks continue to proliferate, gathering increasing amounts of patient data, it is likely that we will be able to isolate and contain the virus before it overwhelms the population.

Every year, we suffer the flu as an inevitability that comes with the changing seasons. But as telehealth technology continues to get better and more practitioners begin to adopt telehealth, it becomes increasingly clear that we now have a unique tool at our disposal that may help knock the flu out once and for all.

Visit Trapollo to learn more about what you can do with an innovative telehealth system.