Your Walgreens online shopping cart can be filled with Goldfish, paper towels, a new toothbrush, and a virtual doctor. Come again? You heard that right. Walgreens is taking part in the trend to make medical information and care more easily accessible.
We’ve discussed telehealth before on this blog and the profound impact it’s having on healthcare today. Home health technologies are expected to increase from 14.3 million worldwide in 2014 to 78.5 million by 2020. Telehealth can act to improve access to health care through a few different vehicles. Wearable devices that monitor conditions such as blood pressure, glucose levels, and more, send reports to a doctor or nurse who can keep tabs on a patient from a distance. While it is still necessary for in-person visits or even home care, such devices can reduce the number of times a patients must travel out of their way simply for routine testing. Doctors can also communicate with patients and share results through a patient portal. This allows patients to view results, ask questions, and monitor their own health data.
Walgreens has announced plans to expand its telehealth platform, MDLIVE, to a total of 25 states by the end of this year. Users can also now access the platform via the Walgreens website on desktop and tablet in addition to mobile. “Offering mobile and virtual access to board-certified doctors is a natural extension of the robust range of health services that Walgreens already offers,” said Dr. Harry Leider, Chief Medical Officer, Walgreens.
Private insurers in 24 states and the District of Columbia are required to pay for telehealth services, and more than half of U.S. hospitals have used some type of telemedicine platform, according to the American Telehealth Association. For example, Barrow Neurological Institute, an international leader in a wide variety of neurological conditions implemented an online patient portal that makes it easy for patients to upload complex images and reports in order to request a consultation. Within 30 days of rolling out the service, approximately 20% of online referrals resulted in new surgeries, many of them for out-of-state patients.
Quick transmission of medical images is essential, especially in telehealth and teleradiology. DICOM Grid improves the telehealth and teleradiology workflow by providing 24/7 access to imaging data and rapid distribution of studies. With the click of a button, you can send and receive patients’ medical images from anywhere in the world. Learn more by clicking on the case study below.