The Future of the Waiting Room: How Telemedicine and Mobile Health Could Change It
If you’ve ever been to the doctor, chances are, you’ve sat in the waiting room for some time. The experience can be frustrating, particularly if the doctor is running behind. The crowded space is often rife with bacteria, germs and sick people, which makes it a place where you’re quite likely to pick up something new. Telemedicine and mobile health is about to change all that.
The entire idea of the waiting room is being reimagined these days. With the pandemic changing many areas of our lives, the crowded waiting room is no longer an option. In 2020, the usual wait in the ER was between 40 minutes and 2 hours, while a doctor’s visit could have you sitting in the waiting room for an average 18 minutes. That’s a long time to sit around if you’re a busy person.
Prescheduling for Lower Wait Times
For those sick of waiting in the doctor’s waiting room, look for doctors that offer prescheduling as an option. This eliminates the majority of the paperwork that must be done upon your arrival and allows the doctor to collect your complete medical history. You can take your time filling out the necessary forms, which immediately cuts back on time spent in the waiting room.
How Telemedicine Can Help
Telemedicine allows patients to see the doctor while they are at home or even in their office. There’s no need to drive to an appointment any longer, and this means even very busy people can pause for their appointment.
The main reason doctor’s appointments take so long is the fact that people want to get the most out of their time. When they’ve spent an hour or so traveling to the appointment, filling out paperwork and sitting in the waiting room, they will often want to pour out all their potential issues with the doctor. This can result in the appointment stretching out as the patient tries to get their money’s worth from the session.
Telehealth eliminates this problem. There is no time invested, and telehealth appointments are relatively easy to get. The patient can consult the doctor for a specific problem and rapidly resolve the issue. They are usually happy with a short call because they haven’t spent too long waiting or traveling to the location.
Telehealth appointments are often more available than appointments in person. This is mainly thanks to the shorter periods of time allotted for the appointment and the fact that doctors can conduct many more calls than in-person visits.
When you are able to get medical help immediately, rather than waiting three or four weeks for an appointment and then having to wait for half an hour in the waiting room, it improves morale. It’s also excellent for health and makes it far more likely that people will see a doctor.
It may surprise you to know that 18 percent of people have not seen a doctor in at least five years. The common reasons people avoid seeing a doctor include:
No time: They have work and children and other responsibilities, making it impossible to take an hour or two off to see a doctor.
Lack of trust: Many people feel that doctors recommend unnecessary procedures, are rude or overprescribe medication, so they avoid seeing a doctor. In fact, 32 percent of women report that their doctor was rude to them.
Lack of choices: When someone dislikes their doctor, they will usually avoid them. Unfortunately, in many areas, this means avoiding the only available doctor.
Long wait times: Often, patients wait weeks to get an appointment and so they don’t bother calling if the issue doesn’t seem life threatening.
Poor insurance: For many, their insurance doesn’t fully cover their doctor’s visits and they have to pay out of pocket. Others don’t have insurance at all and can’t afford the doctor’s visit.
Fear of illness: A whopping one in five patients avoid the doctor because they’re afraid they will get another illness from the waiting room.
While telemedicine doesn’t eliminate all of these issues, it does help greatly with most of them. It eliminates the need to leave the house, so there’s no risk of catching another virus or picking up an infection from a waiting room. This can be a huge relief to many patients.
Seeing a doctor remotely also means there are more options available, and people can choose the doctor they want and feel comfortable with. It’s often cheaper to talk to a doctor this way, too, since there are minimal overhead costs and the calls are shorter than an actual visit.
For those who are looking after dependents, the ability to talk to a doctor about their issue can be done at home. It doesn’t require a babysitter or taking a child or elderly parent along to an appointment. It’s also easier to get an appointment when you need one and are in the middle of feeling ill, rather than waiting weeks to find out that you’re already recovered.
Telehealth is definitely an improvement over the traditional way of managing health.
Mobile Health and Shorter Wait Times
When it comes to monitoring a patient, mobile health technology has completely changed the landscape of medicine. No longer are patients stuck waiting for test results to come back. They are able to track their personal data and vital signs and send this information on to their doctor remotely. In many cases, the doctor may have access to the health information directly, depending on the device.
Mobile health devices include:
Smartphones: There are many apps that allow you to input health data such as heart rate and sleep schedules. This information may be shared with your doctor. More than 87 percentof American smartphone users have and use health and fitness apps.
Wristbands: Fitbits and similar bands can track everything from heart rate to blood pressure and even maintain your sleep schedule marked down. This allows your doctor to examine your health signs.
Other Wearables: Patches, bands and many other types of sensors can provide your doctor with a range of information that they can use to monitor your health. New technology is even available to test blood sugar levels through sweat and most vitals can be constantly monitored through wearables.
With the ability to track health factors, doctors don’t need to keep patients in the waiting room to monitor them over a period of time. This reduces wait times and gives more accurate recordings, since the patient is going about their usual routine.
Both telemedicine and mobile health have greatly improved the waiting room dilemma. There’s no longer a good reason to sit for half an hour or longer in a waiting room, even if you are seeing the doctor in person. This has improved health outcomes drastically over the past year and a half and will continue to improve.