The medical world is constantly changing. Technology now plays a big role in the medical domain. As doctors regularly look for better ways to treat people, technology has brought numerous great advances to the medical field. Thanks to technological advancements such as telemedicine, you can obtain access to medical services or information that might normally be unavailable.
What Is Telemedicine?
Is telemedicine a good fit for you? To correctly answer this question, you must understand what it is.
Telemedicine is the exchange of medical information from one site to another through electronic communications. This is done for the purpose of improving a person’s health.
Telemedicine has been around for over 40 years. It is a rapidly growing field. It can be very difficult to get an appointment with primary care doctors and specialists. The waiting list can be long and even getting a referral doesn’t guarantee a quick appointment. Telemedicine can help bring you and the doctor together more efficiently.
Depending on your healthcare provider’s setup, they can use telemedicine for your consultation. Your doctor can forward diagnostic images such as X-rays and your medical history to the telemedicine doctor for them to review. The telemedicine doctor may have enough information to make a diagnosis and even create the appropriate treatment plan. If not, they can contact you or your doctor for more information. Together you all can decide on the best treatment plan.
Some healthcare professionals have remote patient monitoring systems set up. These remote systems are constantly collecting and sending data to other healthcare agencies for interpretation. This is an important step in telemedicine because even if you are homebound, you can easily get your latest health information over to your doctor. A nurse can come, set up all the equipment in your home, conduct the needed tests, and transmit the data to the doctor before the close of business.
Telemedicine is great for doctors and people seeking medical treatment when it comes to treatment and diagnosis. It can also be a great support system. You can use it to get consumer medical and health information from the Internet. For example, if you or a loved one is fighting cancer, you can link up and get specialized information and get involved in online peer discussion groups.
Online peer discussion groups not only provide helpful information, but also, more importantly, support. Meeting other people going through the same thing as you can help you feel less alone. It can be encouraging and offer peace of mind.
Even doctors have to brush up on their skills from time to time, and telemedicine is right there to help. Doctors and other medical professionals can listen to lectures and get demonstrations of the latest technology without leaving their office.
This type of telemedicine technology is even more important for healthcare officials volunteering in distant places or currently serving in the military. Medical facilities are not always nearby. Receiving treatment or information can be almost impossible. Telemedicine can help save a life.
Advantages of Telemedicine
There are several advantages to telemedicine. One of the biggest is it gives you access to specialists and information that you might not readily have access to otherwise. During a telemedicine consultation, you usually have a chance to tell the doctor about your medical history and ask questions. In turn, the specialist can ask you questions directly.
This telemedicine setup is better than trying to relay information to your doctor or nurse, and then having them relay the message. The specialist can hear the sound of your cough or see your swollen eyes. You can hear firsthand about your diagnosis and treatment options. Telemedicine is considered a regular healthcare service. In most cases, it should be billable to your health care insurance without issue.
Disadvantages of Telemedicine
According to studies, telemedicine may save money, both for the person receiving treatment and for the provider, when compared to traditional care. For this to be true, though, the healthcare facility must have telemedicine equipment on-site. Telemedicine definitely has its strong points, but there are some disadvantages.
One of the main disadvantages is availability and cost. You may not have access to telemedicine services. For the provider, it can be expensive to set up and maintain. Though a great and worthy service, telemedicine may be too costly for smaller healthcare facilities.
Telemedicine can open up many treatment doors, but it is not the same as a brick-and-mortar doctor office. If you prefer a more personal or face-to-face relationship, telemedicine might not be the option for you. You often do not get a chance to bond with your telemedicine doctor, and you may never get a chance to personally meet them. You may not even get a chance to videoconference with the specialist.
Certain types of illnesses and problems require a face-to-face physical assessment and cannot be diagnosed through telemedicine.
Though no service is perfect, telemedicine is a positive and growing medical treatment option. Studies continue to show that telemedicine saves time, money, and lives.
With the rapidly rising cost of healthcare, and the fact that’s it nonexistent in some places, the need for telemedicine continues to grow. It may not be the option for everyone, but the pros seem to outweigh the cons. Being able to treat patients from their home, give valuable medical support and information, and provide service to less developed areas makes it hard to pass up.