By: Sheekha Sanghvi, Marketing Manager
Telehealth is the use of digital information and communication technology, such as computers and mobile devices, to access health care services remotely. Telehealth is a relatively new technological development in the Medical language services that industry has made a major leap in the past 5 years. It is used to schedule appointments, discuss a patient’s medical history in a different language, and obtain lab test results, diagnoses, and other doctor-patient correspondence.
Communication is essential for understanding the patient’s description of what they are experiencing to have a proper diagnosis and an action plan for steps moving forward. The problem arises when both the doctor and patient don’t speak the same language. Unless they require medical assistance, people may generally get by with only learning one language. In the last few years, due to globalization and migration, we have seen a flood of cases where language barriers have led to poor communication. This in turn could result in incomplete or inaccurate history, misdiagnosis, and a treatment plan based on misinformation.
A study that includes data from Toronto General and Toronto Western hospitals, led by Toronto physician and researcher Dr Shail Rawal, said that patients with chronic disease and limited English are more likely to return to the emergency room or be readmitted to a hospital due to poorer understanding of discharge instructions and not taking medication as required, compared to those who are proficient in the language and were discharged with similar health concerns. People faced with that language barrier are more likely to experience worse healthcare outcomes.
The Impact of the Pandemic on Telehealth
Consumer adoption has skyrocketed, from 11% of US consumers using telehealth in 2019 to 46% of consumers now using telehealth to replace cancelled healthcare visits. Today, 48% of doctors use telehealth to treat patients, up from 18% before the pandemic. Even among seniors, who traditionally use telehealth less than younger demographics, telehealth use in 2020 increased 63-fold to 52.7 million from 840,000 virtual visits in 2019.
Telehealth has shown tremendous promise in improving chronic illness management as it enables clinicians to keep track of health metrics beyond in-person visits.
Impact on Interpretation in Healthcare
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the demand for remote medical language services has increased exponentially, helping providers deliver quality healthcare when in-person services stalled. The pandemic allowed medical facilities to be aware of the proper medical language services access they had or lacked within their workplace. Overall telehealth utilization for office visits and outpatient care was 78 times higher in April 2020 than in February 2020.
Following industry trends, MCIS saw an upsurge in the booking of interpretation services following COVID. With the large increase in interest, MCIS witnessed the growth of scheduled telephonic services increasing by 300% + in the Healthcare industry from 2019 to 2021. The need for Schedule Video Interpretation, which was previously negligible, has increased, providing job opportunities to many Canadian residents, and giving them a source of income in these difficult times. We believe that telehealth has provided a bridge to care in the last two years and that it now provides an opportunity to innovate in virtual and hybrid virtual/in-person care models with the objective of improving healthcare access, results, and affordability.
Future of Telehealth
Around 40% of questioned customers in the survey by McKinsey said that they believe they will continue to utilize telehealth in the future, up from 11% previous to COVID-19. There are also case studies demonstrating that organizations have reported additional beneficial outcomes for patients using Telehealth. The overall customer satisfaction score for telehealth services is 851 (on a 1,000-point scale), and 46% of telehealth consumers have a score of 900 or above. These customer satisfaction ratings are among the highest of all J.D. Power studies undertaken in the healthcare, insurance, and financial services industries.
Another way telehealth might help address chronic care requirements is by alleviating the scarcity of primary care physicians, especially in rural regions.
Telehealth is here to stay — This oft-repeated term now seems trite, but as the COVID-19 epidemic continues, it is more accurate than ever.