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Telemedicine sounds like it could be many different things: a medicine telethon, buying medicine over the phone or maybe garnering the services of a medical professional over the phone. The last one is close, but not precisely right.

telemedicine

According to Power Your Practice, an online service and website committed to helping physicians improve their practice, more and more doctors are starting to understand the benefits of telecommunications technologies, like media streaming and virtual conferencing, which offer long-distance and remote health administration, patient care and education.

Telemedicine can connect metropolitan providers with off-site and rural patients, which ultimately saves money and provides more efficient care.

Cost Benefits to Using Telemedicine
The cost benefits are among the main reasons so many practices are investing in telemedical equipment and staff who are familiar with these devices. Ultimately, telemedicine is more efficient and less expensive than establishing an entire unit for radiology or other types of care.

Also, this equipment can reduce intensive care cost, emergency room admissions and lengthy hospital stays. Patients that use telemedicine in their homes can save money on in-house nursing.

New technology allows radiologists to make accurate image assessments and to identify which treatment, if any, is needed. The ease of this process encourages more communication between the patient and the doctor, and in the end, could mean a faster diagnosis.

Will Telemedicine Make Care More Efficient?
Computers and medical software are working faster than ever; today, Internet access is available in most parts of the world. Streaming video software and online meeting services (WebEx, GotoMeeting and Skype for example) allow patient assessment in any location with an online connection. In fact, some of these services’ features are absolutely free.

Monitoring devices are more efficient for older and more technologically averse patients. These require little effort from the operator. Data is automatically sent back to monitoring centers where medical staff can identify emergencies and adjust treatment regimens.

Even behavioral and mental health can stand to benefit from telemedicine. Patients located in remote locations can be examined by leading professionals through telemedical devices.

How does Telemedicine save time?
With the availability of smartphones, tablets, computers and other gadgets, along with different relevant apps, it has become easier for doctors and patients to communicate. Other medical practitioners, like nurses, can save time when administering medications. In the past, a drug study had to be done through books, but it is now as easy as typing into a computer to search for information.

Imagine the difficulty in trying to access medical help when patients are located in a remote area. Think of how far they need to travel to seek medical advice, and how much they need to spend on seeing a doctor in clinic.

Thanks to telemedicine, these things are no longer a worry. Patients may send an email or make a video call with their physician during follow-up checkups to evaluate their progress. Telemedicine provides an opportunity for patients and doctors to build a continuous communication regarding patient care outside the four walls of the doctor’s clinic. Through this, collaboration and evaluation of the interventions done can be closely monitored.

Doctors and other medical caregivers, along with medical virtual assistants play an important role in a patient’s life. Being accessible and flexible through telemedicine is one way of not only keeping up with technology but also making sure you extend an extra mile in patient care.

Practicing Outside the Box
“Telemedicine provides patients with convenient high-quality care for a lower cost”, claims Devon Herrick, who authored a study by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA). Pointing out “patients often find it difficult to take time off work to see a doctor, in the Information Age, location doesn’t matter”.

This practice has become an important element of medical practitioners’ strategies in achieving their goal of providing continuous care to patients even after hospital discharge. It helps improve physician-patient communication and care wherever they are.

Some doctors are even working outside the traditional health insurance payment system taking phone calls, emails, text messages and incorporating innovative computer software to make medical care more accessible and convenient for patients.
Telemedicine is the latest trend in the medical field, and is revolutionizing the efficiency and far-reaching effects of medical diagnoses and patient care.

Image by hang_in_there from Flickr’s Creative Commons