What is meant by telemedicine? Before the Coronavirus Pandemic, not many people knew about telemedicine health care, and even less had used it. Doctor’s visits were a norm, taking huge chunks of time out of your day and money out of your pocket. With the arrival of the pandemic, doctors and patients had to find other ways of consulting as the risk of consulting in doctors’ rooms was far too high.
Telemedicine Throughout The Centuries
What is meant by telemedicine in the early centuries? The creation of telemedicine began with the rise in telecommunications infrastructures, which included the telegraph, telephone, and radio. They reported casualties and injuries using the telegraph during the Civil War, besides the ordering of medical supplies and consultations. We consider this one of the earliest adoptions of telemedicine technology.
By 1879, a Lancet report discussed how using the telephone could reduce the number of unnecessary. This was only the beginning of what would be a patient care transformation.
In 1922, Dr. Hugo Gernsback featured the tele-dactyl in a science magazine. He predicted that this sensory feedback device would permit physicians to see their patients through a television screen and touch them from miles away with robot arms.
The first radiologic images were sent via telephone between two medical staff at two different health centers in Pennsylvania by 1948. Next, in 1959, physicians working at the University of Nebraska transmitted neurological examinations across the campus to medical students using a two-way interactive television system. Five years later, a closed-circuit television link was built that allowed physicians to provide psychiatric consultations 112 miles away at Norfolk State Hospital.
Telemedicine, up until now, was mainly used to connect doctors working with patients in one location to specialists in another location, which patients could not necessarily access. The equipment for this service was expensive and complex and was therefore limited. The rise of the internet age has brought on profound changes in telemedicine. Smart devices capable of high-quality video transmission have opened up the possibility of remote care to patients at home, and in the workplace, as an alternative to in-person consultations.
What Is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine health care covers all the different ways that you and your doctor can use technology to communicate with each other without being in the same room. This includes video chats, phone calls, emails, and text messages.
To enable this system, the federal government relaxed the rules around patient privacy. This allows medical professionals to conduct virtual consultations. Relaxing these privacy rules has made it easier for doctors to interact with patients, and provide medical care while at the same time ensuring patients stay in the safety of their homes.
How Does Telemedicine Work?
What is telemedicine, and how does it work? If your doctor offers the option of telemedicine health care, all you as the patient needs is reliable internet and a phone, smartphone, or computer.
Telemedicine is a convenient tool for everyone, but it is especially helpful if you:
- If you need urgent medical care while you’re away from home or unable to get to a doctor’s offices
- Live in a rural area, or far from your doctor’s office
- Have limited movement, time, or transport
There are different ways to get medical services via telemedicine health care. Two of the most common services provided are:
- A Patient Portal:
With a username and password as security, a patient portal allows you to send and receive emails from your doctor or nurse. You can request prescription refills and set up appointments. This portal allows your physician to share lab or imaging test results and explain their meaning. This is often faster than waiting for an opportunity to speak with them on the phone.
- Virtual Appointments:
Some doctors make use of phone or video call consultations. These are
particularly popular with urgent care clinics and mental and behavioral
Doctors and insurance companies are embracing this concept quickly. This leads us to believe that telemedicine health care is here to stay. The patients find it quick, safe, and convenient, and we believe that telemedicine is here to stay.
Technology is making great strides throughout the medical sector, and it is believed that telemedicine health care is definitely an area that will continue to improve. Consumers are using health apps that add functionality that can help doctors with remote monitoring. For example, several new smartwatches offer heart rate and oxygen saturation monitoring. Doctors are able to use this information (that the patient provides) to help them monitor heart and lung conditions.
Benefits of Telemedicine
Comfort and Convenience
Telemedicine affords you the convenience of not having to drive to doctor’s consultations or sit in a waiting room when you are ill. You can see your doctor from the comfort of your own home.
Control of Infectious Illness
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, flu, and other infectious diseases, doctors can use telehealth appointments to prescreen patients to eliminate the spread of serious infectious diseases within the doctor’s practice. It also saves sick people from having to come into the office. Less exposure to other people’s germs helps everyone, especially those who are chronically ill, pregnant, elderly, or immunocompromised.
Telemedicine can give some specialty practitioners an advantage because they can see you at home. For example, allergists may identify clues in your surroundings that cause allergies. Neurologists and physical and occupational therapists can observe you in your own surroundings, making assessment easier. Telemedicine health care is also a good way to get a mental health assessment and determine if an individual requires further counseling.
When consulting with your doctor, it’s always good to have a family member who can help you provide information, ask questions and note your doctor’s answers. If that person lives out of town or even across the country, telemedicine can loop your family member in on the virtual visit if you allow it.
Primary Care and Chronic Condition Management
Regular visits with primary care practitioners, such as those specializing in family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics, are essential to your family’s health. Telemedicine makes it easy to connect with a doctor or nurse practitioner. In addition, they set some systems up so that new patients can get an appointment with the next available practitioner, which can save time.
Virtual urgent care can make it easier for you to find out whether you need to go to the doctor’s office. If it’s a common cold, you can stay at home. If you have sinus pain, your doctor may walk you through pressing on different parts of your face to figure out what’s causing it.
A sore throat may need an in-person test called a throat culture. An earache could be a sign of an infection that needs closer care. Or you might need a shot of medication to treat your condition. Telemedicine can do many things, but it can’t replace all doctor visits for serious medical conditions or illnesses.
Telemedicine is still relatively new to providers and physicians. One can see this in. The slow adoption of technology in healthcare. However, the advances in technology and healthcare innovation have expanded its usability. The demand for a tech-savvy population has pushed for rapid adoption because of convenience, cost savings, and the intelligent features that come with it. It is just a matter of time before the providers, insurers, and solo practitioners integrate telemedicine as part of their everyday medical services offered.