The Advantages of Telehealth for Seasonal Staff Shortages

Do You Know the Advantages of Telehealth for Seasonal Staff Shortages?

Whether it’s winter, spring, fall, or summer, each season brings about its own illnesses and ailments, all of which healthcare providers need to sufficiently prepare for. For example, just look at the 2017-2018 flu season: during this time period, the percentage of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza was at (or above) the epidemic threshold for an astounding 16 consecutive weeks.

A nurse treating a patient in a hospital

As you can imagine, healthcare professionals faced huge amounts of demand throughout this tumultuous flu season. And, while addressing the mounting needs of their patients, it’s likely that many healthcare employees started to consider possible ways to prepare for other seasonal demand increases in the future.

While doing so, it’s likely that many healthcare professionals considered the advantages of telehealth staffing as a viable strategy moving forward. After all, with the increasing availability of telehealth staffing services and employees throughout the country, this online alternative could certainly offer a practical solution for all manner of seasonal staffing issues – including the ones listed below.

Allergies & Asthma

According to a 2017 paper from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), repeated studies have found that telemedicine can improve overall health outcomes for children and older patients alike, and also help curb the often exorbitant costs of treating allergies and asthma (for example, the ACAAI estimates that seasonal allergies may cost our society as much as $5 billion a year in medication costs and loss of productivity). Meanwhile, another recent study found telemedicine to be just as effective as in-person visits for patients trying to gain control over their asthma – another condition which is easily exasperated by seasonal factors.

Woman in black shirt holding her nose

So, for sufferers of both allergies and asthma, it seems clear that the advantages of telehealth are very applicable. This is especially beneficial since telehealth allows these seasonal sufferers to receive high-level care year-round without having to make any long drives to the doctor’s office – or even having to go outside into the allergen-heavy weather at all!

Naturally, the advantages of telehealth extend to the healthcare providers as well, especially the ability to improve clinical workflows to allow staff to make the most efficient use of their time.

Seasonal Rashes & Other Skin Issues

Since dermatology is such a great fit for online healthcare, it only makes sense that dermatologists would rely on telehealth to address patient issues with seasonal skin issues, which could include everything from dry skin and rashes to hives and eczema. Regardless of whether these dermatological problems are caused by allergies, cold weather, or some other seasonal factors, the highly visual nature of telemedicine offers an ideal solution for patients and providers alike.

Woman applying lotion to her hand

For example, look at the network of seven community health clinics in Massachusetts who recently experienced great success in improving their care management processes and reducing their expenditures through telemedicine. By eliminating the need for so many in-person visits, the health centers’ staff found they were able to spend a lot less time making referrals and a lot more time actually serving their patients. While doing so, they also saved their patients money on transportation costs, missed time at work, and pesky in-office appointment co-pays.

Cardiovascular Disease

Did you know that colder temperatures can increase the odds of both heart attack and stroke? It’s true, and when you break down the reasons why, it actually makes a lot of sense. By increasing your blood pressure and cholesterol levels (amongst other things), winter weather is inherently risky for individuals who already have a history of cardiovascular disease. This explains why some have even come to refer to winter as “Heart Attack Season.”

Man in white shirt clenching his chest

As it turns out, cardiology is another medical specialty thriving as one of the leading telehealth trends, and for good reason. Today’s specialists can use all sorts of cutting-edge devices to provide faster and more convenient care to their patients, whether through remote-transmitted heart-monitoring data, dynamic telestroke services that remotely evaluate at-risk patients, or any number of other techniques.

By enhancing the accessibility of care for patients with cardiovascular diseases through off-site and remote services, telehealth staffing solutions once again free healthcare providers up to service a larger pool of patients more efficiently.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder is a mood disorder that’s influenced by the changing of the seasons, most often as a result of the waning light in the winter months. When the mood disorder hits, it often results in a marked period of depression that can last for days, weeks, or even all winter. However, SAD responds well to various forms of treatment, including talking with a therapist or various antidepressants that help with seasonal symptoms (still, antidepressants aren’t generally used as a first-line treatment for SAD).

Sad looking woman standing in the snow

Fortunately, telepsychiatry sessions allow sufferers of SAD to treat their disorder and develop a comprehensive plan for feeling better. Once again, modern telehealth trends such as video conferencing have made it possible (and extremely easy) to bring psychologists and psychiatrists to their patients, instead of the other way around. Not only does the convenience of telepsychiatry and telepsychology reduce healthcare costs and increase access to mental health diagnosis and treatment, it also offers a viable solution to the ongoing psychiatrist shortage that’s taking place all around the country – and all around the year, as well.

Influenza

As previously mentioned, flu season is nothing to take lightly. Healthcare professionals must prepare for the potential staffing shortages that could easily – and abruptly – accompany an unexpected influenza outbreak. They must also be prepared to treat the various complications associated with the flu, including sore throat, cough, fever, fatigue, stuffy nose, vomiting, diarrhea, and numerous other symptoms.

Woman bundled up under the covers in her living room

Telehealth trends over the years have shown that telemedicine is very effective for keeping the flu under control. So, not only does telemedicine enable patients to safely receive care from afar, it also protects healthcare staff from inadvertently contracting the virus as a result of incessant in-person appointments throughout the season.

Ready to Reap the Rewards of Telehealth Staffing for Your Own Organization?

Whether it’s the flu or seasonal skin problems, cardiovascular issues or seasonal depression, constant advancements in telemedicine and telehealth are opening up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to treating seasonal illnesses. Amongst other things, telehealth can greatly reduce the spread of diseases, empower sick patients to meet with health providers from the safety of their homes, and much more.

A physician showing his patient information on a computer screen

From a care perspective, all of these benefits make it much easier for providers to get back to doing what they do best: treating their patients, especially in high-demand times where seasonal staffing shortages present the biggest threats to efficiency.

For more information on year-round telehealth staffing solutions, don’t hesitate to contact us at MedLink today!