Just a few years ago, telemedicine was not as significant as it is today.
This is because of the ongoing pandemic that is still affecting millions, if not billions, of people around the world.
Now, telemedicine and telehealth play a huge factor in not just the individual’s health but could be a big contributor in the battle against Covid.
Telemedicine is the electronic transmission of medical data between two locations to enhance a patient’s health.
Telemedicine encompasses a wide range of applications and services, including wireless devices, emails, two-way video, cellphones, and other forms of telecommunications technology.
Telemedicine has expanded quickly, becoming an integrated part of specialized departments, hospitals, private medical offices, home care, and among patient’s homes and workplaces.
It began 40 years ago with healthcare facilities extending their treatment to people in distant areas.
Meaning of Telemedicine
Telemedicine is not a separate medical specialty.
Telemedicine’s products and services have always been part of a broader investment in healthcare systems, whether through information systems or delivery methods.
In most cases, reimbursement costs are similar in telemedicine and on-site treatments.
It implies that the invoicing and coding of remote services are the same.
The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) has long regarded telehealth and telemedicine as similar terms, including a broad range of remote healthcare concepts.
Telehealth and telemedicine services usually involve video conferencing with patients, e-health, the inclusion of patient portals, electronic transmission of digital images, remote monitoring of vital signs, wireless applications for customers, call centers, medical education, and other applications and services.
Telehealth refers to a broader field of long distanced healthcare communication that does not involve clinical services.
On the other hand, the ATA is used the same way that medicine or health is used.
Hence, telemedicine and health information technology (HIT) are inextricably linked.
HIT refers to electronic health records and related health information systems, while telemedicine refers to using technology to provide various clinical services.
What Kinds of Services Can Telemedicine Provide?
The services offered and the techniques utilized to deliver services is the best way to understand telemedicine.
Here is a list of examples:
- Primary care and specialist referral services may need a dialogue between primary care or the allied healthcare worker and the patient or specialist, who will aid the physician in establishing a diagnosis. Often, it is done via live interactive video or by using technology to store and transmit diagnostic photographs, the patient’s vital signs, and other data for future references.
- Long-range patient monitoring includes home health care services. Patients’ data is collected and sent remotely to a residential health agency or a diagnostic testing center using communication devices. The information may include vital indicators for homebound patients, such as blood sugar testing results, ECG data, or other essential details about the patient. Telemedicine services assist in improving the services offered by visiting nurses.
- Consumers’ access to health and medical information may involve wireless technologies or the internet, enabling them to obtain specialized health information and participate in peer-to-peer assistance via discussion groups.
- Health professionals may receive continuing medical education credits, and individuals in rural areas may have easier access to specialized medical education.
What Are Methods of Delivery Used?
In distant areas, networked systems connect hospitals and clinics with other facilities and community health services.
It may happen via specialized and advanced telecommunications systems or the internet, allowing accessible communication between two locations.
According to the American Telemedicine Association, there are now 200 communication networks in the United States, offering telemedicine services to over 3,000 areas.
Hospitals and clinics utilize point-to-point links to provide services directly or contract services to other unaffiliated healthcare providers.
These networks are using high-speed, private networks.
Also, stroke evaluation, mental health services, critical care, and radiography are among the outsourced services.
Patients who require in-home care, such as pulmonary or cardiac monitoring, may utilize connections to monitoring centers.
Here, the patient and the care center may interact via standard landlines or wireless connections.
Some systems, on the other hand, are using the internet to access patient monitoring data.
What Are the Benefits of Telemedicine?
Telemedicine is becoming more popular due to these four main advantages:
- Enhanced access to medical care– Telemedicine has made healthcare available to people in distant areas for more than 40 years. Telemedicine improves patient access and enables physicians and healthcare institutions to communicate to offices outside of their network. Despite provider shortages in rural and urban regions, telemedicine has helped millions of patients to get immediate treatment.
- Cost savings efficacy– The potential to control or decrease healthcare costs is one of the most compelling reasons to use telehealth technology. Telemedicine can lower healthcare expenses by increasing efficiency, improving chronic illness management, reducing travel time, reducing hospital stays, and easier collaboration between professional healthcare staff.
- Improved quality of healthcare– Many studies have shown that healthcare quality improves when telemedicine services are applied. It maintains that this method is as they’re just as excellent as those provided during face-to-face meetings. Telemedicine surpasses conventional treatments in some instances, such as intensive care or those mental health-related. Also, telemedicine offers a higher patient experience and satisfaction.
- Increased demand among patients– Telemedicine is becoming more popular among consumers. It has some significant effects on the patient, their family, and their community. The usage of telemedicine reduces patient stress and travel time. Several studies have shown that in 15 years, telemedicine has improved patient satisfaction. Such services offer patients more accessible access to physicians who could be unavailable and medical treatments without requiring long-distance travel.