How Telehealth Assists Endocrinologists with Patient Care
Improving patient outcomes and access through virtual endocrine care
Approximately 16 million Americans suffer from endocrine related disorders according to a study conducted by the National Library of Medicine. Commonly caused by a hormone imbalance, examples of disorders include diabetes, hyperthyroidism/hypothyroidism, Addison's disease, thyroid cancer and Graves’ disease. These disorders usually require the patient to seek care from an endocrinologist.
The ability of telehealth to support chronic care patients and their care teams is why endocrinologists were some of the first to hop on the telehealth train. Virtual care allowed them to continue to provide the essential care their patients needed while facing provider shortages and a global pandemic. And even now, endocrinologists are continuing to utilize telehealth to enhance patient care in a variety of ways.
Types of Virtual Care for Endocrine Disorder Management
Endocrinologists can take advantage of multiple virtual care methods, with usage dependent on the needs of their patients. The three most common virtual care types used by endocrinologists include synchronous care, asynchronous care and remote patient monitoring (RPM). Each offers unique use cases and benefits to both the physician and patient.
In general, hosting visits via synchronous video calls is one of the most common ways to facilitate virtual care. Clinicians who specialize in treating endocrine disorders can leverage this care in a variety of ways, including:
Follow-up visits to gauge progress from new medications or other lifestyle changes
Reviewing or explaining test or scan results
Nutrition or diet counseling, particularly for diabetes or cancer patients
Periodic check-ins, especially helpful for cancer patients who need more continuous care monitoring
Synchronous care improves patient outcomes by allowing endocrine specialists to check in more frequently with patients and assess the state of their condition and symptoms. As a result, it is less likely that their patients will need hospitalization or emergency room visits. Synchronous care also eliminates the added time and cost that the often lengthy commute adds for patients.
Endocrinologists are able to collaborate with other providers or members of a care team via synchronous telehealth, as well. This could involve connecting with the patient's primary care provider or involving another specialist in the virtual visit. Synchronous virtual care provides a network of physician knowledge at the fingertips of both the endocrinologist and the patient.
Also known as store-and-forward, asynchronous care involves collecting information from patients on the front end. (Information could include medical history, images/scans and other reports). The clinician then provides diagnostic expertise and appropriate treatment based on the information collected. Essentially, asynchronous care does not require real-time interaction between provider and patient.
When endocrinologists leverage asynchronous care they save both time and resources with fewer phone calls, paper filing and appointments to schedule. For example, asynchronous care may look like having patients fill out symptom progression forms, submit food logs or send in lab results through a secure EHR platform beforehand. Typically, patients will receive asynchronous care in addition to in-person care.
Remote Patient Monitoring
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) devices allow physicians to monitor, collect and analyze patient data in real-time. Utilizing RPM devices can be particularly helpful in diabetes management for glucose level monitoring. Through RPM, endocrinologists can monitor patients' blood sugar levels in real time. This enables them to make changes to medication quickly, before any life-threatening issues arise.
There are two common types of RPM devices for monitoring blood sugar levels in diabetics: a blood glucose monitoring device and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM). When a patient uses a blood glucose monitoring device, the device captures the data from the blood sample and sends it directly to the endocrinologist. Then based on that data, adjustments to medications can be determined.
For continuous glucose monitoring, the patient has a chip device that continuously sends glucose levels updates to a software managed by their specialist. These devices also have indicators that alert the patient when their blood sugar levels are high or low. RPM devices for diabetics are essential to managing their condition and improving quality of life.
Cost savings of telehealth
In addition to the increased access to specialized care and improved patient outcomes, there are also cost savings involved when telehealth is utilized for endocrine disorder management. The first cost saving benefit involves transportation. Since regular check-ins or monitoring are done remotely, neither the patient nor the endocrinologist is required to commute to appointments. The lack of commute (which can often be lengthy) not only saves time but also money spent on gas or public transportation.
Another cost saving element of telehealth is the reduced overhead cost. It has been shown to:
lessen the need for admin support
reduce the amount of paperwork / manual busy work
decrease the amount of appointment cancellations
Powering patient care for endocrinologists and other specialists
Specialized care is imperative for those with endocrine disorders. Improving both the quality and access of that care is the first step to increasing the quality of life for so many individuals. So, if you're ready to expand your practice to telemedicine, we’d love to introduce you to OpenLoop.
OpenLoop thoughtfully pairs its clinicians with innovative healthcare organizations providing virtual and in-person care in all 50 states. Our easy-to-use, HIPAA compliant technology was designed with clinicians top-of-mind for seamless scheduling, efficient visits and note charting. With 6,000+ providers already in our clinician network, you can tap into the OpenLoop advantage too with:
Sync & async options
Dedicated provider support
Interested in expanding your reach as a provider? Apply to our clinician network!
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