Medical services have a long time debt with patients. As healthcare systems all over the world become saturated due to in-person care, populations growing in size and age, and technology moving at a pace never seen before, there is a growing need to update existing health systems.
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Luckily, there are many opportunities for improvement when it comes to healthcare services. This is something that is generally accepted by governments and private companies. However, the transition towards a new and improved model has shown to be a hard task.
One of the many technological advancements that can help healthcare systems evolve rapidly to meet growing demands is Telemedicine. By using this technology, it is possible to help medical professionals and institutions transition efficiently and effectively towards better medical systems. Mobile and web apps can help do this, as many users already have some sort of device that can access the Internet.
In this post we discuss what Telemedicine is as well as its pros and cons.
What Is Telemedicine
Telemedicine is the use of technology on behalf of healthcare providers to deliver remote clinical services. It differs from Telehealth services because this last encompasses additional non-clinical services. In other words, Telemedicine services are a specialized branch of Telehealth services.
Contrary to traditional brick and mortar-based clinical services, Telemedicine shortens distances by eliminating unnecessary displacements from medical professionals and patients alike. Eliminating this requirement helps healthcare providers become more efficient and effective because it removes the barrier of using a physical healthcare facility. Thus, a healthcare professional can easily perform a virtual visit, helping a patient remotely.
Thanks to the possibilities that contemporary telecommunications offer, healthcare providers can make use of virtual care to address many patients without sacrificing service quality. A Telemedicine program has the potential to reduce costs and make existing healthcare infrastructure available only for those patients who really need it.
In order to provide an excellent remote service, patients and medical personnel need to have access to the right broadband infrastructure. Only by doing so can an adequate level of remoteness be guaranteed.
It is also necessary that users have the right software tools and telemedicine equipment. In many cases, it is not enough to have a regular video conference app. Specialized software is needed to provide the best possible remote clinical service.
Use Cases of Telemedicine Services
There are various types of services provided by Telemedicine. These are some of the most common.
- Telemonitoring: doctors can help patients take care of themselves with the use of special devices. Patients learn how to use them after receiving guidance and are able to track their chronic conditions. Although this poses some risks, it is very convenient for most patients that do not require a visit to the doctor.
- Real-Time Services: the possibility to check for symptoms, provide therapy, and diagnose patients is very popular. Through the use of powerful MedTech apps, a healthcare professional can retrieve information and let patients know what to do in case a problem arises.
- Telementoring: this is particularly useful for faraway rural places. Doctors in these areas can consult specialists regarding a specific treatment for a patient. That way, if a doctor is not familiar with an ailment, they can learn the fundamentals from a reliable source.
- Analyze Medical Data: patient medical data can be easily shared with doctors and academic research institutions through secure platforms that guarantee privacy. Special HIPAA compliant software platforms make sure that information is secured. This will require securing personal data. This is one of the most important aspects to consider when it comes to Telemedicine.
- Emergency Services: sometimes during an emergency it is not possible for patients to visit the closest healthcare provider. Attending emergencies through Telemedicine helps solve this problem.
- Trustworthy Health Information: misinformation is a growing problem for many healthcare providers. This can be addressed through reliable information sources.
- Behavioural Health: wellness professionals can use Telemedicine apps to help patients improve their behavior and develop healthy habits.
Pros and Cons of Telemedicine
Here are some of the benefits.
- Cost savings and increased efficiency thanks to improved medical resource allocation and reduced in-person visits.
- Risk mitigation due to reduced contact with medical facilities. Patients can stay in their houses, reducing the risk of contagion or other ailments.
- Patients can get their information faster as the doctor has increased availability.
- Increased flexibility for patients and doctors as systems are redesigned to take full advantage of the power of telecommunications.
- A patient-centred approach that focuses on providing a great User Experience.
- Improved access to healthcare providers in rural or remote areas.
- Convenience for patients who suffer from chronic illnesses and cannot easily move from one place to another.
- Reduced need for a waiting room, helping reallocate the space to patients who really need medical facilities.
There are also some negative aspects that need to be taken into consideration.
- Regulation is necessary, but it can slow down the pace of innovation and the implementation of new technologies.
- Infrastructure, particularly in terms of broadband and Internet connection, needs to be robust enough to guarantee a good service.
- Some people may have difficulties accessing their apps. Working with someone who knows how to develop software correctly is necessary.
- Many patients will be dubious at first to try out virtual care and virtual visits as the default healthcare service standard.
- When it comes to physical examination there are still some limitations.