Is Telemedicine the Wave of the Future?

In an era where people do everything electronically, technology advancements have made it possible for health care providers to treat patients while in different locations. The day has finally come where you don’t have to go to a hospital or a clinic to be treated by a doctor.

There are three main types of telemedicine, store-and-forward, remote monitoring and real-time interactive services:

• Store-and-forward is used by sending medical images or biosignals to a specialist, this is mainly in relation to dermatology, radiology, and pathology.

• Remote Monitoring uses a range of technological devices to monitor health and clinical signs of a patient remotely, this is used in the management of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, and asthma.

• Real-Time Interactive Services provides immediate advice to patients who require medical attention. There are a number of different channels used for this purpose, such as phone, online, and home visits.

Many people are asking “Is it possible for a doctor to conduct an examination, make a diagnosis, and then prescribe treatment for a patient who may be thousands of miles away?”  Even though it seems impossible, telemedicine is here and in operation.

U.S. News & World Report recently spoke with James Hoevelmann of Sullivan, Missouri about how telemedicine works for him.

James, a retired carpenter, suffers from severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and doesn’t like going to hospitals. James now gets his care from Mercy Virtual Care Center fifty miles away from his home.  He has an iPad equipped with devices such as a blood pressure monitor and scale that stream his vital signs and other data from his home to Mercy. Medical professionals at the center have been able to detect subtle health shifts that have prevent the cascade of deterioration that could of put James in the hospital.

“We can trend the data on a daily basis and intervene in many cases even before patients experience symptoms,” says Gavin Helton, Mercy’s medical director. “I feel safer knowing I have those people behind me” says James.

Telemedicine claims they can help 66% of patients without having to send them to the hospital or a medical practices. One of the Affordable Care Act’s new requirements is that doctors begin using electronic medical records (EMR). They must enter patient medical history into an electronic system that can be accessed by doctors all over the world.

Telemedicine is definitely here to stay- it has not only been proven to reduce healthcare costs for hospitals, but it also has improved patient satisfaction.