How Telemedicine Can Increase Care for Infectious Diseases

How Telehealth Can Improve Care for Infectious Diseases

Learn How Telehealth Can Change the Way Providers Treat Infections Diseases

Infectious diseases (ID) remain one of the most difficult conditions to treat within the healthcare community. Infectious disease specialists are becoming increasingly scarce in the world of medicine, making it more difficult to treat patients in a timely manner. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 15.5 million physician office visits and 3.7 million emergency department visits back in 2016 where infectious and parasitic diseases were the primary diagnosis. 

To better treat infectious diseases, some care providers and healthcare centers are turning to telehealth for assistance. Digital tools ease the burden placed on local and rural healthcare centers when treating patients with infectious diseases. Learn more about how telehealth is changing the way care providers treat infectious diseases.

Increase Access to Infectious Disease Specialists

The number of ID specialists is on the decline in the United States. According to the National Resident Matching Program, of the 335 infectious diseases fellowships available to residents, only 218 were accepted. In many parts of the country, there may be just one ID specialist serving multiple hospitals, if these facilities have access to an ID specialist at all. 

Healthcare facilities can quickly access ID specialists outside of their network using virtual care platforms. Care providers can use these digital tools to consult with ID specialists, so they can administer care to patients in a timely manner instead of having to transfer them to a new facility. 

Keeping Patients in the Community

When local care providers use telehealth to remotely consult with ID specialists across the country, they keep infectious patients in the community and close to home. This drastically reduces the cost of treating patients with infectious diseases. It also reduces the chances of spreading the ID to new population centers. Patients suffering from IDs can stay close to friends and family and be cared for by providers that are familiar with their medical histories. 

Keeping patients close to home also reduces the amount of pressure placed on facilities with ID specialists. These facilities are easily overwhelmed if an outbreak occurs, delaying care for dozens, if not hundreds, of patients. This ensures patients suffering from infectious diseases can get the care they need quickly without leaving the local community. 

Once these patients leave the facility, care providers can use remote patient monitoring (RPM) and consultation tools to ensure these patients are recovering as expected, limiting the chances of another outbreak. 

Improving Medication Management

Telehealth is also improving the way care providers administer medications to patients at risk of contracting infectious diseases. Healthcare-associated infections can affect large portions of the patient population and cost facilities more than $40 billion annually. By consulting with ID specialists around the country, local care providers can better manage antibiotic medications to make sure they’re used wisely. Without access to this added expertise, some providers may prescribe antibiotics to their patients needlessly, raising the cost of care and increasing the risk of harmful drug reactions and antibiotic resistance.

Thanks to the rise of telehealth, local facilities can keep patients with infectious diseases in the community and better manage their medications. This reduces the overall cost of caring for patients with infectious diseases and limits the chances of exposing new patients. With fewer ID specialists in the U.S. healthcare system, more facilities will need to turn to telehealth and digital ID specialist connection platforms to better serve their patients. To learn more about how telehealth can improve and increase access to care for patients with infectious diseases, visit InTouch Health.