What is Telemedicine?

What is Telemedicine?

The healthcare infrastructure is drastically changing, and one of the concepts that have emerged is telemedicine. Telemedicine is basically the use of information and telecommunication technology by healthcare professionals to diagnose and treat patients from another location. This concept was introduced to eliminate the distance barriers and make specialized health care services more accessible to the population. Bellaire ER gives more insight on Telemedicine.

History of Telemedicine

The Telemedicine concept was born when telecommunications technology came to be. Radio, telegraph and the telephone emerged late in the 19th century, but it was not until the early 20th century that the population started using these technologies widely. The concept was introduced in the field of medicine in the 1950s when some university medical centers and a few hospitals began sharing images and information using these systems. During the early stages of this concept, it was used to connect a doctor and a specialist working from different locations. It was a great way for people in the rural areas to access specialized medical services.

When the age of the internet came, telemedicine was revolutionized. The practice was characterized by profound changes like the proliferation of more advanced devices that were of offering better audio and imaging transmissions more effectively. Today, the field is constantly changing and at a much faster rate than ever before. With the advancement in technology comes more advanced equipment and more effectiveness in the field. In fact, telemedicine has grown to become an integral part of the US healthcare today.

The different ways Telemedicine can be used
The advancement in internet use has also changed how telemedicine is used. A simple connection to the internet can allow many patients in the remote areas to access to this type of medicine. There are three ways of connection that are used:

• Networked programs
Networked connections are basically used to link up health clinics in the remote places to the large healthcare facilities like the hospitals in the cities. At the moment, the United States has roughly 200 networked telemedicine programs that benefit over 3000 rural sites.

• Point-to-point connection
This type of connection links several small health centers in remote areas to one central health facility using high-speed internet. This type of connection allows small clinics or those that are understaffed to outsource medical care from other locations that are within the same system. This type of connection is particularly common with urgent care service, teleradiology and telepsychiatry.

• Monitoring Center Links
Monitoring center links are specifically used for remote patient monitoring. It works by creating a digital connection between the remote monitoring facility and the patient’s house allowing for the patient’s medical data to be measured at home and transmitted to the medical monitoring facility electronically. The links are usually in the form of SMS, telephone communication or internet. Monitoring Center Links are commonly used when monitoring cardiac, pulmonary or fetal medical data.

Types of Telemedicine

Real-time telehealth
Real-time telemedicine is also called synchronous medicine, and it is perhaps the first line of thinking when telemedicine is mentioned. Real-time telemedicine enables real-time interactions between that patient and the health professional via video and audio communication. The software is quite sophisticated as opposed compared to the video chat platforms people use. However, the concept is quite the same as the goal is for the patient and the health professional to communicate with each other.

Remote patient monitoring
Remote patient monitoring allows the medical practitioners to monitor the vital data of the patient from a distance. It is also called telemonitoring. The popularity of this type of telemedicine is quickly rising as more people realize the benefits of telemedicine on chronic care management. An example is a glucose tracker of a patient that is able to transmit the medical data of the patient with regard to their glucose level to the health official remotely.

Store-and-forward telemedicine solutions
This type of telemedicine, also known as asynchronous telemedicine, enables healthcare providers to forward the medical data of the patient from a different location. They offer a more sophisticated and more secure election platform that allows for a secure transmission of patient’s private data.

Pros of Telemedicine

1. Provides convenient and accessible medical care for patient
The idea of telemedicine is to make medical care accessible to more people particularly for those people in the rural areas. With telemedicine, typical geographical barriers are broken, and the healthcare delivery model becomes more convenient.

2. Cheaper health care costs
Telemedicine has the ability to slash the health care spending greatly by minimizing the need for unnecessary ER visits.

3. Establish better access to consultations from specialists
With telemedicine, health officials have a better platform to engage and consult with regards to the procedures for treating patients. As such, regardless of one’s location, they can access specialized treatments from the best specialists in particular fields.

4. Increased patient engagement
Telemedicine enables patients to connect with their doctors more frequently in a manner that is more convenient.

5. The patient care is also of much better quality given that access to specialized treatment is much easier.