What is Telehealth Patient Education?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Patient education provided through Internet-connected computer-based programs continues to expand, especially for individuals suffering from chronic disease. Telehealth patient education combines the provision of care, health information with online peer support, decision support, and even help with behavior change.

Patient health education programs have shown an increase in patient’s understanding of health information, feelings of support, and even some improvement in clinical outcomes among patients. Evidence is available suggesting that home-based information technology interventions can reduce healthcare costs, and is useful for reducing incidents of smoking and improving diet. As telehealth and computer-based technologies continue to grow and interface with healthcare, more research is needed to determine the best ways to deliver interactive care. However, telehealth-based patient education programs can aid in assisting individuals in making care decisions. These “decision aids” (education through telehealth) can improve a patient’s knowledge of risk and can increase people’s involvement and degree of comfort with their caregiver’s decision making.

When employing a patient education program, health systems face the responsibility of determining how best to proactively enable more accessible interactions and environments that promote health and well-being. Telehealth and patient communication technologies play a significant role in this role. However, in a remote patient education program, health systems are responsible for patient health literacy. These health systems must determine the parameters of patient health interaction, the physical setting, communication style, content, mode of information provided, and the technology used to deliver the education. With thresholds met, only then can consideration be given to patient preferences regarding communication styles, content, and delivery models.

Patient communication can be tailored for each patient to account for their preference for the type of media used to deliver the education, along with the frequency of contact and the skills or competencies of individuals. Some people may prefer the use the telephone, video conferencing, and still, others prefer a text message.

Importance of patient education

Patient education is a vitally-critical component of the treatment for chronic and other conditions via telehealth. Telehealth exists, in large part, to provide not only care but education to patients. Instruction and clinical support provide patients with critical disease-related information and empower patients to become more deeply engaged in their care and outcomes.

Central to proper care reform is the need for an expanded role of educating patients about their condition, and how to interact with care teams. The impediment to patient engagement is the level of patient engagement.

Self-care education interventions by caregivers have shown improvements in self-efficacy, patient satisfaction, coping skills, and perceptions of social support. Significant clinical benefits demonstrated in trials of self-management of health include conditions such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, heart failure, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Alternatively, randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of self-management or lifestyle interventions for diabetes, for example, have shown reductions in diabetes incidence, improvements in comorbid depression, and other clinical benefits. In patients with rheumatoid arthritis, patient education has an immediate beneficial effect on disability, joint counts, patient assessment, psychological status, and depression, studies show. Similarly, self-management programs for epilepsy may improve knowledge about epilepsy and reduce seizure frequency. Heart failure management programs that include initiating self-management interventions also demonstrate a positive effect on outcomes, such as hospital readmissions, quality of life, and mortality. For each of these reasons, patient education programs are essential.

Participation in patient education programs is not spread evenly across socio-economic groups. Telehealth solutions can help fill these gaps. Ultimately, chronic disease self-management and preventive health programs focus on promoting informed lifestyle choices, risk-factor modification, and active patient self-management of chronic diseases. Such processes rely heavily on better information and communication practices. Lack of patient education in all cases can limit a patient’s ability to self-manage their health condition, which can negatively affect disease management.

Patients traditionally receive disease-related education during face-to-face interactions with a healthcare provider, but telehealth and computer-based technologies are changing that, for the better. The in-person delivery model is less viable and less convenient because of many factors, including lack of time, long distances between provider and patient, and cost. These barriers can keep patients from receiving proper education about their condition and care and can impact their long-term outcomes.

Common barriers to education through telehealth

Telehealth and other secure connected technologies used to deliver patient education help overcome most barriers related to providing education to the patient. While the benefits of telehealth patient education are numerous, there are a few barriers. Because the Internet makes telehealth possible, lack of Internet access or poor connections negatively affects telehealth-provided capabilities. Likewise, any equipment malfunctions can lead to missed appointments or lack of care, especially troubling when care is critical.

Similarly, for those individuals who are not technology savvy, receiving education through telehealth or other communicative technology may be challenging to navigate. Some opponents of remote patient education cite privacy as a risk. Thus, during the education session and consultation, a patient should be alone and the caregiver in a secure area. If not, personal information may be compromised.

Ultimately, telehealth patient education could dramatically improve a patient’s ability to monitor their condition. Telehealth education can also keep people engaged while improving their health outcomes, compared to traditional face-to-face care. Telehealth patient education may be more effective than conventional modalities of patient education, especially for individuals with chronic conditions.

These same studies suggest that virtually-delivered patient education is a viable alternative to in-person instruction. Telehealth-based patient education allows caregivers the ability to enhance the care they provide to patients and improve efficiency across the entire healthcare system.

Telehealth with TigerConnect

Telehealth is quickly altering healthcare. More communication and information sharing between patients and medical professionals lead to a better quality of care and outcomes, as the studies above suggest. Telehealth is re-defining how providers and patients connect, allows for more patient engagement, and provides access to better care.

Quality communication with patients is critical, which is at the heart of telehealth. At TigerConnect, we understand that patients are at their most vulnerable leading up to, during, and after a clinical event and that they have lots of questions. But, access to their doctor can be limited, especially pre- and post-appointment.

TigerConnect Patient Engagement approaches patient communication innovatively by pushing care information via secure text message to the patient’s preferred device. We open conversations between patient and physician outside the confines of physical location and support telehealth initiatives and telehealth-provided care. We’ve also eliminated portals or logins to improve care and increase communication between patient and provider.

With TigerConnect, health systems can communicate directly with patients through video, voice, and text, helping patients become more active in their care, and interact with physicians, nurses, case managers, and home health caregivers. This level of connection is critical for modern healthcare.

Healthcare organizations that connect caregivers and patients see dramatic improvements in outcomes, patient safety, cost reduction, and staff satisfaction.

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About TigerConnect

TigerConnect is healthcare’s most widely adopted communication platform – uniquely modernizing care collaboration among doctors, nurses, patients, and care teams. TigerConnect is the only solution that combines a consumer-like user experience for text, video, and voice communication with serious security, privacy, and clinical workflow requirements that today’s healthcare organizations demand. TigerConnect accelerates productivity, reduces costs, and improves patient outcomes.

Trusted by more than 6,000 healthcare organizations, TigerConnect maintains 99.99% verifiable uptime and processes more than 10 million messages each day. To learn more about TigerConnect visit www.tigerconnect.com.