Torrid Flu Season Underscores Importance of Telehealth

In one of our blog posts last fall, we referenced medical experts that anticipated we would be in for one of the worst flu seasons in recent memory. Now, several months later, these concerns have come to pass.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that this year’s flu is the worst in over a decade, with one in 14 visits to doctors and clinics nationwide attributed to flu symptoms. Hospitals in 42 states reported high patient traffic for the flu, and there have been tragic stories of flu-related deaths across the country too.

To make matters worse, the spike in flu is even resulting in supply shortages at healthcare facilities around the country too.

In our previous post, we argued that telehealth is one of the best tools at our disposal today for mitigating the spread of infectious illnesses like the flu. Given the way that this year’s Flu Season has digressed, it may be worth noting the benefits again.

Here are a few ways that the implementation of telehealth services can help providers and patients alike when it comes to avoiding and managing the flu.

Decreased infection points:

Going to the doctor during Flu Season can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, you may need medical attention. On the other, you also increase your risks of contracting or spreading the flu when visiting facilities filled with other sick patients—some of whom already may have compromised immune systems. Telehealth reduces these infection points by giving doctors remote access to patients, who can receive care from the comfort of home.

Inventory management:

This torrid flu season has strained providers’ inventory for vital supplies. Telehealth services providers can alleviate this burden by providing all medical equipment and managing every step of the process, from shipment and tracking to cleaning, replacing and servicing. This will empower healthcare providers with the certainty that every patient has the treatment they need, when they need it.

Expanding the care network:

Timing is everything in the healthcare industry. Rural patients may not have the ability to travel an hour to see a specialist, and individuals in a metropolitan area can’t be expected to wait weeks to be seen. Telehealth allows providers to expand their network for immediate access for patients anywhere in the country. This also enables patients to consult with experts or specialists that may otherwise not have been available to them before.

While this Flu Season has been one for the ages, there is reason for hope in the years to come. As more providers and patients come to realize that telehealth can slow the spread of contagious diseases, it will be possible to mitigate epidemics soon. To learn more about how telehealth services can help your organization address the biggest challenges in healthcare today, click here.