Healthcare Technology Featured Article

June 28, 2019

How Telemedicine Is Changing Healthcare




Technology is affecting the whole world even more positively than you’ll ever know. Almost every industry is shaped by technology, and the medical industry is no exception. The future of healthcare is looking brighter and more accessible, all thanks to technological advancements.

One of the positive changes happening in the medical industry is known as telemedicine. What exactly is it? Telemedicine refers to the use of electronic communications or media, such as teleconferencing, remote patient monitoring, video calling, and image sharing. From this very definition, it can be gleaned that, indeed, telemedicine is shaping healthcare with its numerous advantages. However, be very cautious of trusting providers, as there is also the prevalence of telemedicine and telehealth patient fraud. Double check the credentials of your provider and crosscheck it with your doctor as well. That said, here’s a run-through of details as to how telemedicine is changing healthcare for the better:

1. Urgent Questions Of Patients Can Easily Be Addressed

Gone are the days when you will still have to travel to the hospital just to ask your physician some questions. Especially if you have urgent problems, such as when you are continuing treatment at home, it is imperative that these concerns are addressed quickly and adequately. Little delays here and there can mean severe consequences for you as a patient. Hence, with telemedicine, you can immediately send in your questions along with explanations, or images and videos, of what it is you are trying to show through chats and video calls.

2. Diagnosis And Treatments Of Strokes Are Faster

Strokes are a fatal emergency. After one has happened, it is essential that treatment is provided as soon as possible. If you are living near a hospital, or if you are in the big city, then this shouldn’t be much of a problem. But if you are in a rural area, you have little chance to receive immediate diagnosis and treatment as a stroke patient.

With companies that offer telemedicine, there is also now a new treatment form for stroke known as Telestroke Services. It seeks to treat the patient faster through the following ways:

  • Expert neurologists can share their expertise through video conferencing, particularly in areas wherein there is no other expert doctor available to address the stroke.
  • Patients who have access to Telestroke Services are treated 20 minutes faster than other patients, which is very crucial, as a lot can happen within the first few minutes after the stroke itself has occurred.
  • Videoconferencing has allowed for better treatment and diagnosis methods, such as managing a stroke victim properly even while they are still in the ambulance.

3. Patients Have Access To More Valuable Healthcare Information

More often than not, patients are denied a wide array of healthcare information because they have to rely on the explanations of doctors. If results aren’t in yet, they have to wait a long time before an appointment with the doctor is made. With telemedicine, this waiting time is reduced, and patients now have better access to more valuable healthcare information all at their fingertips. Tests and scans no longer have to be printed as they can be saved digitally and sent to patients immediately. Right then and there, the patient has an overall idea of what it is they are going through with the help of the doctor’s explanation through a videoconference.

4. It Reduces The Need For Physical Consultations

If you are coming from the rural areas, chances are there is no hospital nearby. It can be very time-consuming for you to have to keep going back and forth to the hospital every time you need a follow-up consultation. If it is a major concern, then by all means, you may have to see a doctor physically. But for more minor problems and consultations, telemedicine allows you to accomplish this through teleconferencing.

Apart from saving you the trouble of having to go to the hospital frequently, doctors and hospitals themselves can also enjoy the benefits of telemedicine. For starters, the patient population in hospitals is reduced. Hence, those who go to the hospital are only those who need immediate care and attention. It is an undeniable fact that hospitals do experience congestion and overcrowding. With a long waiting list, going for checkups can be time-consuming for both the patient and the doctors.

5. Telemedicine Increases The Efficiency Of ICU Nurses And Doctors

Apart from the emergency room, one of the most stressful areas to work in the hospital is in the Intensive Care Unit. Because the patients there are high-risk and very delicate, it is vital that doctors and nurses are on their toes all the time. But because of the heavy workload, it is not impossible for human error to occur, albeit minimal. Sometimes, a dose of medicine may be missed or delayed, or the nurses aren’t immediately called for any sudden changes in a patient’s vital signs, such as a sudden drop or rise of blood pressure, for instance.

With telemedicine, there is also a new branch in Intensive Care known as tele-ICU. Tele-ICU acts as a second pair of eyes for Intensive Care workers to improve attentiveness to patients. Remember that when you are in the ICU, every second is of high importance, and nurses should not miss any critical signal. Tele-ICU gives out access to vital data like the following:

  • Better monitoring of the progress (or regress) of patients
  • Previous nurses’ and doctors’ notes are better kept and stored for easy access to records that could be referenced
  • More straightforward bedside assessments and monitoring through cameras, even from the nurses’ stations

6. Immobile Patients Can Now Have A More Convenient Means Of Consultation

Whether you are in a rural area or not, if you have an immobile patient with you or a bedridden family member, you would know how difficult it is to have to continuously transport them to the hospital, even just for minor consultations. Though you may have a vehicle, this can still take so much effort when it comes to positioning them inside the car. If you don’t have a vehicle, then your recourse is to call for the services of an ambulance, which is undeniably costly.

With all this, it is safe to say that transporting a bedridden patient back and forth for checkups is not a very practical way to go. With telemedicine, this special care patient now enjoys a more convenient means of consultation. Bedside assessments and consultations can be made through video calls, whereby the doctor can still see how the patient is doing. Hence, it is only when the patient has a more severe need that they are physically brought to the hospital. The last thing that you would want is to have spent so much time, money, and effort in trying to transport your bedridden patient, only to find out when you meet the doctor that they’re A-okay.

More importantly, think of how this is also inconvenient for patients themselves. If you, as the caregiver or family member, feel inconvenienced by having to transport your immobile patient regularly, all the more it is exhausting for the patients themselves.

7. Telemedicine Enables Patients To Have Rehabilitation At Home

Depending on the health condition of the patient, others may have to continue their rehabilitation at home. If there is no need to continue medical treatment in the hospital, many will opt to maintain this at home for two reasons:

  • It is cheaper
  • It is also more convenient

When you are rehabilitating right in the comfort of your own home, you save on the costs of paying for a hospital room and other fees. However, many doctors still recommend staying in the hospital for the very reason that it becomes difficult for them to follow up on the condition of the patients if they are in their own houses. With telemedicine, this concern of doctors about home rehabilitation is aptly addressed. As you can easily send videos and photos, and even have medical video conferences, doctors are now more open-minded about allowing their patients to continue their healing process out of the hospital.

8. Patients Get To Enjoy Their Privacy

There are a lot of patients who tend to get queasy in the presence of other patients in the hospital. Especially for those who may have diseases or ailments that they would rather not freely discuss in public, this can also be one contributing factor as to why they shy away from hospitals. When you are confined in the hospital, too, nurses come and go, and you never really know who it is you might bump into. With telemedicine, a patient’s concern for privacy is addressed.

For those who feel uncomfortable discussing their ailments but still need consultation from their doctors, they can now do so remotely or in their own homes. Instead of having physical documents, results and other lab exams can be sent directly from the doctor to the patient. Hence, through telemedicine, the protection of healthcare data is addressed. More so, because the time spent at the hospital is reduced, patients no longer have to worry about suddenly meeting a friend or other people from work to whom they don’t want to disclose their condition.

Conclusion

From this list of advantages, it is easy to determine that for as long as telemedicine is appropriately used, and for the purposes that are set out for it, healthcare will be affected in many positive ways. From reduced follow-up checkups, especially for patients living in remote areas that previously didn’t have access to healthcare, and to even reducing healthcare costs, the benefits of telemedicine are amazing and endless. Now you can see why health organizations are slowly expanding their use of telemedicine services.








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