Among the many variables that contribute to quality outcomes in healthcare, the significance of the ratio of patients to doctors cannot be understated. If there are more patients in need of care and fewer doctors to treat them, a number of issues may arise. This problem has already been witnessed in the more rural parts of the country, but surprisingly it is now becoming an issue in major cities as well.
According to a study of commonly used specialty physicians in 15 major U.S. cities, new patient wait times have jumped 30 percent in metropolitan areas over the last three years. Patients in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Houston and more now wait a staggering average of 24 days to get an appointment.
There is clear cause to be concerned over this news. Most medical conditions are exacerbated if left untreated over time, meaning that longer doctor wait times could worsen the quality of life for patients. This can also limit the courses of treatment available for doctors to prescribe, making their work more difficult too.
Why Are Healthcare Wait Times on the Rise?
There are several reasons for this troubling trend. The aforementioned study suggests that the aging of the Baby Boomers and more insured individuals are the primary factors. Of course, the goal is to provide insurance and healthcare to as many individuals as possible, so the only way to make positive changes is to expedite the processes that are slowing down healthcare organizations.
One of the most promising methods for reducing doctor wait times is the introduction of telehealth services. In the case of New York-Presbyterian Hospital, for instance, the use of telehealth technology helped to cut ER wait times by 66 percent over a 10-month trial period. Such findings are being reported by healthcare organizations in other dense population centers too.
How Do Telehealth Solutions Reduce Healthcare Wait Times?
Telehealth solutions give doctors and patients a convenient, quick platform to connect on a more consistent basis. This type of relationship allows for ongoing, remote monitoring of conditions before they become egregious.
Compliance is also a huge factor—particularly among the Baby Boomer population currently experiencing a chronic disease epidemic. If you see a patient once every six months, it’s hard to know if they’re staying compliant with their course of treatment. But telehealth platforms can be designed to hold patients accountable every step of the way. By increasing medication adherence, treatments are followed as instructed and may lead to quicker recoveries, as was found in a recent study of heart failure patients.
Learn More About Telehealth Solutions
In order for your healthcare organization to succeed today, you would be wise to consider how telehealth solutions may fit into your strategy. Your patients and your doctors will thank you.