Telemedicine – the use of technology to enhance patient health outcomes by increasing patient access to medical information and treatment – is linked to positive health outcomes for people with asthma and respiratory difficulties, as found in a meta-analysis of 22 studies. Today, many people with asthma and other issues are being diagnosed and/or being given consultations and follow-ups from the comfort of their own homes, enabling patients and health professionals alike to save on time and expenses. In the meta-analysis, researchers found that combined telecase management, combined telecase management and consultation, and combined teleconsultation all resulted in significant improvement in the quality of life of patients.
Combined Telemedicine Works
The meta-analysis researchers advocated for the use of combined telemedicine, since the different categories complement each other and have a stronger positive effect on patients. A typical telemedicine session can involve various approaches, including the use of alarms and sensors or equipment a patient can use to monitor physiological symptoms and share this information with health professionals. During a video call, the health professional may ask a patient to perform a spirometry or oximetry test, for instance, giving advice to the patient depending on the results.
Telemedicine and COPD
More respiratory conditions apart from asthma are availing of the benefits of telemedicine. Recently, the European Commission recognized the potential of this system to monitor patients with issues such as bronchitis, emphysema, and other chronic lung conditions. Testing has become sophisticated, with patients measuring aspects such as oxygen saturation, heart rate, temperature and exercise via a mobile phone containing dedicated software. Recent research has shown that patients relying on telemedicine have a lower rate of hospitalisation and a lower likelihood of their condition worsening than those without access to this service. Software which triggers alerts when patients have symptom changes or forget to include data in their diary can be of great utility. These alerts initiate encounters with health providers if problems are suspected.
Patients can avail of programmed communications to discuss factors that may be contributing to their ill health at home. Problems can include suspected triggers within the home – including toxic mold spores, which are common in homes in cold, humid areas. Black mold in particular is known to induce asthma and other respiratory issues, so if the health professional suspects its presence, testing may be advised. Professional removal of toxic mold may be recommended, since spores can grow back if they are not efficiently eliminated.
Telemedicine Can Help Improve Cognitive Function
In addition to helping patients stay on top of their condition and discuss new concerns, telemedicine can also improve cognitive function in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). One study by Danish researchers found that cognitive performance in people with severe and mild-to-moderate exacerbation improves with telemedicine-based treatment. Improvements were particularly evident in memory and attention.
Telemedicine is playing an important role across the globe during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it has shown great promise in the long term for those with asthma and other respiratory problems. There are various modes available, with many focusing on the sharing of information between health professionals and patients online. Telemedicine does not have a singular focus; sessions can also be used by patients to bring up other matters of concern. Communicating these issues are particularly important when there has been a recent worsening of symptoms.
The Rise of Digital Health
Technology has changed a dramatic amount over the last ten years alone, and digital health is now ever-present. From telemedicine and health-related wearables to online medical providers and health resources, digital health is growing faster than ever. Consumers are using digital resources to better manage their health levels, and medical facilities are using digital technology to track, manage, and improve the health of their patients. Now, patients do not even have to meet in person to get the treatments or advice they need. Putting power back into the hands of the patient while giving doctors and medical professionals access to the tools and data they need; the rise of digital healthcare is something that cannot be ignored.