We’ve all likely been patients at some point in our lives, even if it has been for a flu shot. The healthcare industry affects almost everyone’s lives in varying degrees and regularity. Needless to say, delivering healthcare could certainly use the convenience and ease of technology.
As we usher in a world of accelerating change, a term that is often thrown around is ‘telemedicine’. According to several stakeholders of the healthcare industry, telemedicine might just be the future of medicine. But what exactly does it entail? How will it work? More importantly, how will it benefit us?
Telemedicine is the practice of diagnosing and treating patients remotely by using advanced telecommunications technology. In this piece, we’ll examine its implications on two key stakeholders: doctors and patients.
How does telemedicine help doctors?
1. Doctors are empowered to bring the full range of their services to more patients
Many people choose to work in the healthcare industry because of an innate desire to help people, to treat and to cure.
With telemedicine solutions, doctors are empowered to expand their reach to treat even those patients that are in remote parts of the world. Thanks to telemedicine, the term ‘doctors without borders’ has taken a literal meaning.
According to AMD telemedicine, doctors are able to expand their reach to some surprising places, including the high seas. Moreover, telemedicine solutions don’t just allow doctors to recommend or advise other health care providers remotely; it means that doctors can completely diagnose and treat patients on a regular basis.
In other words, with the right software and hardware, a doctor sitting in a world renowned hospital in Boston can help a patient located in Sub-Saharan Africa.
2. Doctors can ensure a continuum of care
Today, because of increased globalization, we rarely spend our entire life spans in one country, even less so in one state or locality. We also travel for work and leisure – and we do it often.
This could mean that doctors interact with patients on a one-time basis before the patient finds other healthcare services that may be closer or more convenient. Transferring patient histories, building new relationships with new doctors are a few of the associated discomforts.
With telemedicine solutions, physicians can work with patients remotely and regularly, regardless of where they are. This enables the physician to build a long-term, nurturing relationship with the patient. It has two key benefits: first, it ensures the continuum of care. Second, it eliminates the problem of communicating patient history across various providers.
3. Doctors can treat patients during disaster recovery
Natural and man-made disasters can happen at anytime, and anywhere. Typically, such emergency situations are dealt with by local hospitals and healthcare providers, who sometimes fall short on caregivers during these demanding high-response scenarios.
Telemedicine allows world class physicians from anywhere to really utilize their extensive training and make an impact in disaster areas. More doctors can hop on board to provide the maximum amount of care in the aftermath of a disaster.
Because doctors can do this remotely, they also have the opportunity to diagnose and treat without being affected by the external factors that often pervade local providers that are physically present in affected areas themselves.
For patients, too, telemedicine presents benefits:
1. Life-long convenient care
For patients, telemedicine means that seeking care no longer has to be a stressful activities. There are a number of factors that we often have to take into consideration with traditional medicine, such as vicinity to the doctors and receiving care while you’re away.
With telemedicine solutions, these factors are eliminated. Patients can access medical care whenever they want, without difficulty.
2. Telemedicine is cost-effective (travel)
Telemedicine isn’t just convenient; it’s cost-effective. Patients can work with physicians remotely and receive targeted, effective care while eliminating the need to travel to-and-from the doctor’s office.
This saves the patient the cost and hassle of making a visit to the doctor’s. Moreover, with the right equipment and resources, long-term terminal patients can receive effective care from the comfort of their homes without having to pay expensive hospital bills.
3. Telemedicine enhances patient confidence
Telemedicine allows the patient to be a partner in their own healthcare process. It empowers the patient and educates them so they are better able to care for themselves, without reliance on a professional at all times.
Any queries, concerns or doubts can be discussed at length or eliminated quickly via telemedicine solutions. Patients can act quickly when they have concerns or are facing difficulties, without worrying about whether or not they’ll be able to access their physicians.
Remote healthcare means that, on the whole, the patient has easier opportunities to interact with his or her doctor, which in turn increases patient confidence.
As the world shifts towards the virtual, it is only imperative that healthcare too hops onboard the digital bandwagon.
It is important to remember here that the need for physical examinations and meeting with a doctor is under no circumstances being undermined by telemedicine. Certain forms of treatment and cure will always require a physical visit to a healthcare facility and the physical attention of a medical professional.
What telemedicine does do, however, is spread the reach of medical care to carry it to people and places that could not access it before, and to bridge the gap where medical care falls short in the face of our rapid-paced, globalized world.