Telemedicine has grown in popularity and is a new and helpful tool in Health care.
Across the country, health care providers are using video conferencing and other remote tools to administer treatment to patients many miles away. Known as telehealth or telemedicine, this practice has become increasingly common in recent years.
The Healthcare Trends Institute found that by 2018, some 7 million Americans will receive care through telemedicine. Increasingly, hospital executives and insurance companies are integrating the practice into daily life. In fact, by the end of 2015, roughly 37 percent of employee health care plans in the U.S. included telemedicine services. Senior care in particular will likely benefit from this trend, but in reality there are a number of important factors that make telemedicine such a useful option. Here's what you need to know.
How does telemedicine work?
Although just a few years ago telemedicine may have felt like something out of a science-fiction movie, Market Watch stated that the use of video chatting and other tools in everyday life has helped doctors and patients feel more comfortable using telemedicine services. More importantly, the availability of high-definition cameras allows physicians to make accurate diagnosis through a computer.
A telemedicine encounter is usually assisted by an attending nurse or clinician. This health care professional may travel to a patient's home or work. Similarly, a full-time nurse at a school or assisted living facility can also facilitate a telemedicine session. Once connected, a doctor and patient go through the usual steps of a checkup. Using remote sensoring tools or a hand-held camera, the attending nurse or clinician can help a doctor examine everything from a sore throat to blood pressure. The doctor can give advice and assurance, and use a patient's digital health records to not only make a more informed assessment, but to also fill a prescription remotely. A patient can follow up with a doctor using an online patient portal, email or text messaging.
What are the benefits?
Telemedicine not only makes life easier for patients and doctors, but it may also bring about cheaper health care services overall. Likewise, telemedicine has the power to improve access to patients living in remote communities.
For patients, the availability of a telemedicine station at a local clinic, workplace or assisted living facility eliminates the need to travel to a doctor's office. This is especially important for individuals living with mobility issues or a chronic condition that requires frequent or on-going care. This is not only more convenient but can save time and money by eliminating traveling and missing school or work. Doctors, meanwhile, save time in their own daily workloads, which can be used to handle administrative needs or other duties.
Both parties benefit from a more efficient system, and the savings are passed down to patients. Market Watch reported that telemedicine will likely continue to expand in popularity, in part because the health care industry overall has focused on efficiency and cost-reductions in the past half decade.
Because video conferencing tools and other devices have become cheaper and easier to connect online in recent memory, the application of telemedicine has grown tremendously. As a result, there are new opportunities to treat patients in dire need of health care services. While an ordinary patient may benefit from telemedicine, entire rural or urban communities with limited access to high-quality health care services are being integrated using the technology. In emergency situations and relief areas, the use of telemedicine is also immensely important. Many more doctors can offer advice and guidance to local officials and volunteers, especially in situations where health care expertise may be limited or in short supply.