How Telehealth Can Reduce Healthcare Wait and Travel Times
New Study Shows No Improvement in Healthcare Wait and Travel Times
A new report from the Altarum Institute shows that patients are facing long wait and travel times when seeking health-related services. Overall, these long wait and travel times amount to roughly $89 billion in missed opportunities. Learn more about this new study and how telehealth technology companies can help reduce long travel and wait times in the years to come.
Long Wait and Travel Times for Patients
Over the last decade, the average patient wait time and travel time haven’t budged, despite advances in online scheduling tools and other healthcare IT features. The new study from the Altarum Institute shows patients spend around 45 minutes traveling and waiting for health-related services. The average patient faces a travel time of 34 minutes and a wait time of 11 minutes when accessing these services. These travel times and wait times account for more than 50% of time spent actually receiving care.
Consumers are waiting longer for health-related services compared to non-healthcare related industries. For example, consumers typically travel around 30 minutes for veterinary services and face around 5 minutes of wait time. It takes around 31 minutes to obtain legal services, including 27 minutes of travel time and just 4 minutes of wait time.
Despite these glaring differences, it’s important to remember that healthcare tends to be much more complicated than these other industries. Treating a patient and responding to their health needs tends to be more time-consuming and less predictable than taking out a mortgage, treating animals, or responding to a legal inquiry.
Dragging Down the Economy and the Healthcare Industry
Long wait and travel times aren’t just an inconvenience. For some individuals, it may mean taking more time off work, missing important career and economic opportunities, or spending more time away from their loved ones. Long wait and travel times can also discourage patients from seeking the care they need in the first place, shifting the healthcare industry toward reactive care instead of proactive care.
If a patient has to drive 35 minutes and then wait another 10 minutes just to see their doctor, they’ll be less likely to schedule regular appointments, and instead will only seek out care if they have an issue with their health, which can lead to higher costs for the patient and the healthcare industry.
How Telehealth Can Make a Difference
But telehealth can help reduce travel and wait times for patients. Instead of driving across town and waiting for care, patients can use live video and audio to remotely consult with their care provider. If they have an issue with their health, they don’t have to worry about securing transportation and taking precious hours out of their day just to consult with a healthcare professional.
Those managing a chronic condition can also use telehealth services to reduce their wait and travel times. Doctors can use what’s known as remote patient monitoring to keep track of any changes to their patients’ health. Patients won’t have to commute as often to be evaluated by their doctor or a specialist. Instead, the doctor will give the patient remote monitoring devices that keep track of their health, including their weight, pain management, exercise, prescriptions, and other essential health services. Some of these patients may have trouble moving or getting in and out of a car. But by accessing the services provided by telehealth technology companies, these patients can stay at home where they feel more comfortable.
Patients need to feel they can access healthcare services without taking too much time out of their day. If patients feel that keeping up with their health is too much of an inconvenience, they will avoid receiving care all together, raising the cost of the care down the line.
As telehealth becomes more widespread and care providers continue adopting telehealth services, we should see a reduction in patient wait and travel times. Learn more about the benefits of telehealth and contact the professionals at InTouch Health today!