Telemedicine: The way of the Future?

Briana Gavin, freshman

Telemedicine has been around since the creation of the telephone but has continued to go along with our technology. Officially, telemedicine is the remote delivery of health care services and clinical information using telecommunications technology1. Under telemedicine, also referred to as telehealth, patients are able to meet with a health care provider at the office or in the comfort of their own home. In this system patients who previously would have had to wait days for an appointment at their local doctor’s office and then sit in a waiting room, would be able to use this service and arrange a videoconference or phone call with a certified doctor and receive quality health care conveniently.

Telemedicine is a growing comtelemedponent of the American health care system having around 200 networks with 3500 service sites in the United States1. While Telemedicine is the name given to the entire concept, multiple service provider companies run different centers located all over the United States

Services under telemedicine are videoconferences, phone calls and emails with a health care provider or any service that involves using technology to provide health care such as using a cardiac monitoring system. Yet there are other advances through telemedicine, many remote hospitals such as in Mexico or other countries are able to communicate through these services and receive consults from world leading specialists to provide health care to some who may not receive it otherwise3.

Telemedicine can be offered through applications on people’s phones and through monthly subscriptions. It offers efficient health care at an affordable price with each consultation being around 40 dollars it will not only reduce the overuse of emergency services but also lower the medical burden on American citizens3. However though it may be cost effective some health care plans will not cover these co-pays and patients will have to pay out of pocket3. Another obstacle is that in some cases the patient could be diagnosed wrong due to missing information not mention or symptoms not noticed. In many states, the use of telemedicine is being limited if not banned completely 2.

Despite draw backs telemedicine continues to evolve and advance and is now being used to educate health providers at remote hospitals through tele-simulations where they can receive direct instructions and information from a specialist in fields of medicine they do not commonly encounter3.

Dr. Ravenna Rihal who works for Doctor on Demand, a telemedicine company, says “the technology surpassed my expectations and I think the future holds more because of all the wearable devices and all the information we will be able to transmit soon”4.

Telemedicine is becoming more and more popular and as our technology advances we can only expect to see more come out of this system to benefit our health care and to expand towards other locations.

1, http://www.americantelemed.org/about-telemedicine/what-is-telemedicine#.VilPMfmrTtQ

2, http://www.forbes.com/sites/billfrist/2015/03/12/telemedicine-is-a-game-changer-for-patients-the-system/

3, http://www.post-gazette.com/news/health/2014/08/12/Telemedicine-gives-patients-an-alternative/stories/201408120011

4, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1-MFo7_n-Y

Photo from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Center for Telehealth

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