Expanding Access to Specialty Care With Telecardiology
How Telehealth Can Improve Outcomes for Cardiovascular Patients
Heart disease remains the number one cause of death throughout the United States. One in every four deaths is attributed to cardiovascular disease, costing the U.S. around $219 billion every year. Many seniors and chronically ill patients will need around-the-clock cardiovascular care services in the years to come.
However, many rural areas lack access to specialty care services, including cardiology. Chronically ill patients may also have trouble traveling to and from the cardiologist’s office. Fortunately, telehealth can help primary care providers connect with cardiologists and specialists in real-time, improving the patient experience, and increasing the access to care. Discover how virtual care can help more patients at risk of heart disease find the services they need.
On-Demand Cardiovascular Expertise
Heart disease often leads to a heart attack or stroke, which means time is of the essence when treating and stabilizing these patients. If a patient suffers a heart attack or stroke, they may arrive at a local hospital or emergency room. The attending physician may not have immediate access to a cardiovascular specialist, forcing them to transport the patient to another facility. This results in the unnecessary transfer of low-acuity patients, quickly inflating the cost of care.
Instead of using an emergency transport team, the attending physician can use telehealth to coordinate with a cardiovascular specialist in real-time using live video and audio. The specialist can help the physician stabilize and treat the patient, so the patient doesn’t have to leave the community. This also increases the patient’s chances of survival.
The patient can then recover closer to home. They don’t have to worry about being separated from their loved ones during their time of need or being charged at a higher rate for visiting a provider that’s outside of their insurance network.
Helping Specialists Expand Their Reach
There are around 23,000 cardiologists in the U.S. States like Massachusetts, California, and New York tend to have more cardiologists per person than more rural states like Iowa, Utah, and Mississippi. In some areas, patients may have to travel hundreds of miles to reach the nearest cardiologist.
A shortage of cardiovascular care specialists will only increase the rate of disease. Patients will be less likely to see a specialist if it means going far out of their way. They may be hesitant to follow through on referrals and appointments if they lack access to transportation or cannot take time off work.
Heart specialists may only have access to a small pool of patients if they confine themselves to certain geographic areas. This is what drives so many providers to large, urban cities, such as Boston and New York City. However, rural patients still need access to these services. In fact, heart disease tends to be more common among individuals that live in rural areas.
Cardiologists can quickly expand their reach and take on new patients with telehealth. They can connect with local hospitals and doctor’s offices using live video and audio to make sure they have access to the latest treatment and diagnostic information when caring for patients at risk of heart failure. As soon as the in-person physician admits a patient with heart problems, they can virtually consult with the cardiologist instead of relying on their own instincts or sending the patient to another facility. This makes the entire treatment process more cost-effective for facilities and their patients.
Specialists can use this technology to further their practice by transcending physical barriers that can limit access to care. If a cardiologist only has access to a limited number of patients, they can maximize their impact on the local community by virtually connecting with primary care providers and ER units across the region.
Everyone deserves to have a healthy heart, even if they don’t live close to a practicing specialist. Use this technology to make sure your patients have timely access to cardiovascular care services. Visit InTouch Health to learn more about caring for cardiovascular patients remotely.