Around 15-20 percent of patients in the United States live in rural areas. Unfortunately, between primary care shortages, hospital closures, and geographic isolation, those patients are up against significant barriers to accessing healthcare. The National Rural Health Association reports there are only 30 specialists per 100,000 people in rural communities, compared to 263 specialists per 100,000 urban residents.
In this series of blogs, Translating Healthcare, we will highlight and break down the meaning of phrases and terminology that are increasingly used, but not always widely understood. Today, we'll be unpacking the definitions of synchronous and asynchronous and examples of how they apply to the medical world.
Synchronous vs Asynchronous
On a basic level it might be clear that these two words refer to opposing things and have something to do with time… but how does their meaning they apply to healthcare?
A full, consistent schedule is the bread and butter of any successful medical practice. Patients who miss their appointments, no-shows and last-minute cancellations can have a huge impact on your practice’s financial health.
If you are like most practices, the words “virtual care” have become critical to your survival. With the changes the world has faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, facilities that once relied exclusively on in-person treatment have been forced to explore ways to meet their patients’ needs without always seeing them face-to-face. By 2021 and 2022, most practices have used telehealth software to enable a virtual meeting with a patient. These programs allow physicians to talk through simple issues with patients during a live video consultation. But what about complex cases, chronic issues, or complicated cancer diagnoses? What if your practice offers specialized care that requires an assessment of a patient’s case history?
Basic telehealth tech does not typically have an answer for these questions as the systems lack a comprehensive method for aggregating and presenting health information, especially for records like test results and radiology scans. It’s for these cases that your virtual care toolbox needs to include a method for Remote Second Opinions. But what is a Remote Second Opinion (RSO)?
Well, I’m glad you asked…
So, you are on the market for a technology solution to support your organization in accessing medical records more efficiently… now what? The answer depends heavily on the unique issues that you are trying to solve.