If you’ve ever heard of telemedicine, chances are you know it in a very broad sense. You may have even heard about it in passing, as something of a novelty or an interesting niche application. Telemedicine is the use of electronic media to provide virtual access to medical care and healthcare services from remote locations. Telemedicine refers specifically to consulting with doctors over the phone. And although it is an old practice, telemedicine has become more accessible than ever before thanks to advances in technology and the advent of smartphones.
The benefits of telemedicine are many and varied: It can reduce travel costs for patients and their caregivers, streamline medical procedures for doctors who must see every patient face-to-face, and even save lives by allowing patients to consult with specialists without having to make risky trips or deal with complicated transportation schedules.
How Does Telemedicine Work?
The most common application for telemedicine is a phone call with a doctor. This type of telemedicine service can be arranged through a wide variety of means, such as Skype, Facetime, or Google Hangouts. One of the best things about using this type of service is that it allows patients to take their time in choosing their healthcare provider. They can choose one that they feel comfortable with and who they feel like they would be able to connect with on an emotional level as well as intellectually.
Another option for telemedicine is virtual appointments. With virtual appointments, a patient schedules an appointment online with their doctor and will receive an email or text message notifying them when the appointment is ready to start. Once the patient arrives at their allocated location, the appointment begins and concludes by video conference–and then both the doctor’s office and the patient’s home can go back to normal business. Virtual appointments are great for people who want to keep their home life separate from their health care life–or those who just prefer it that way!
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine is the use of electronic media to provide virtual access to medical care and healthcare services from remote locations. The most common form of telemedicine is consulting with doctors over the phone.
A doctor can consult a patient remotely via tele-health, or they can provide advice over a video or online chat application. These consultations are crucial for patients who cannot easily leave their homes or offices, or who may have mobility issues that prevent them from travelling. Additionally, these tools allow appointments to be scheduled on a more flexible basis.
Doctors also use telemedicine as an outreach tool: They prescribe medications in rural areas without nearby clinics, and they offer consultations on topics with which they are not personally familiar. This allows doctors to focus their time and attention where it’s needed most, which benefits patients seeking care in areas that don’t have enough providers or specialists.
Types of Telemedicine
There are many types of telemedicine. They range from remote patient consultations to video conferencing and telerehabilitation, to tele-presence surgery.
One type of telemedicine is the remote consultation with a doctor over the phone. This is typically used for people living in rural areas who do not have access to a nearby healthcare provider or for those who cannot travel far. Doctors can provide valuable information about treatment options, diagnoses, and prognosis from their offices via telephone consultation. In other words, visiting a physician’s office in person would be too inefficient because it would take too much time and money. After all, out of sight really is out of mind!
Another type of telemedicine is video conferencing where doctors discuss medical procedures with patients without traveling to visit them in person or perform surgery remotely. This could help save lives by eliminating the need for dangerous trips or complicated transportation schedules.
Another type of telemedicine is known as “telerehabilitation” which refers to using various sources of digital media such as tablets, laptops, smartphones, VR devices (virtual reality), computers/tablets with internet connections, etc., to provide virtual rehabilitation services for patients who live far away from treatment facilities that offer physical rehabilitation programs.
How Does Telemedicine Actually Work?
To understand how telemedicine actually works, you first have to understand what a doctor consultation entails. When patients call a toll-free number, they are connected with a doctor. Theoretically, going this route would allow the patient to consult with their primary care physician at any time of day or night. However, that doesn’t always happen in practice because the doctor is limited by their availability and the patient’s travel time. For example, if the first thing an emergency room doctor does after arriving at work is answer a phone line for telemedicine calls (which can only be done from 8:00 am – 10:00 pm), then there isn’t much time for them to see other patients in person.
Many doctors are hesitant about telemedicine because it can be difficult to maintain an in-depth conversation over the phone. Patients often don’t know how much information they need to provide or can’t accurately measure their symptoms through something as simple as self-reporting over the phone. With these challenges in mind, many doctors opt not to take on telemedicine consultations at all or limit them to only certain types of cases that they’re most comfortable with.
Is Telemedicine for You?
There are many different reasons to consider telemedicine, though it is not for every situation. For example, if you suffer from a condition that prevents you from visiting doctors in person or if you live in an area where medical care is difficult to access, telemedicine may be perfect for you.
Telemedicine can also help minimize the doctor-patient gap by providing patients with an opportunity to consult with doctors and get their ailments diagnosed without having to make a trip across town or wait weeks for an appointment. It’s also useful for less serious illnesses – something that can be particularly helpful for younger children.
Should you use telemedicine for your healthcare needs?
The answer for most people is a resounding yes. Telemedicine has been shown to be an effective method of providing patient care, as it can reduce travel costs and streamline procedures for doctors. For example, telemedicine is often used in cases where patients must consult with specialists in order to receive necessary treatment. It also benefits caregivers by allowing them to provide their loved one with the best care possible from their home or work location.
In many ways, the answer for whether or not to use telemedicine is an easy one: if you want your healthcare needs met, you should use telemedicine. But what if you don’t? What are some other reasons to consider using telemedicine?
The Bottom Line
If you or someone you know could benefit from telemedicine, it is a great way to improve healthcare access and quality of care. To find out more about how this practice can help your loved one, contact a doctor at the Virginia Tech Healthcare Center.