Understanding Telemedicine and Why It’s on the Rise

Before we start, the most important thing to know is what is telemedicine? According to the American Telemedicine Association, “telemedicine is the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status”. This communication method is helpful when it comes to treating patients who aren’t able to come to an office, but can communicate by means of email, smart phones, wireless tools, and other technology.

Telemedicine has been around for over 40 years, however it is now picking up speed due to the increased use of technology in patients and offices. It has been implemented in hospitals, specialty departments, home health agencies, private physician offices, and consumer’s homes/work places.

Keep in mind that telemedicine is not a medical specialty of its own. The products and services that come with telemedicine are often times an investment made by healthcare institutions. Telemedicine can be better understood once we explore what services can be provided:

  • Primary care and specialized referral services: These services include primary care or a professional consultation between a patient and specialist which results in a diagnosis. This service is primarily done through the transferring of images and interactive videos, along with patient’s data that can be reviewed at a later time.
  • Remote patient monitoring: This service uses devices that can collect and send patient’s data to a health agency or a testing facility In order to be interpreted. Patient monitoring can be used in place of or to supplement the use of visiting nurses.
  • Consumer health information: This information can be beneficial to consumers who want to receive specialized health information and for those who wish to utilize peer-to-peer support groups via the internet.
  • Education: If you are located in a remote location, telemedicine can be used for health professionals to obtain education credits and for medical seminars to be accessed anywhere.

After learning about the benefits and services that come with telemedicine, it is no surprise that there is an increasing demand for its implementation in the medical world. Because it is relatively new to most practices, there are still issues such as the quality-of-care patients are receiving and the abuse of the service that need to be addressed.

Increased demand for telemedicine means we can expect to see this method of communication to become more common in practices – something that we can look forward to in the near future.