- from Cornerstone News
Telemedicine can be defined as "the use of telecommunication and information technologies to provide clinical health care at a distance." It can improve access to medical services that may not be available in rural communities. It can also be used to save lives in critical care and emergency situations.
The idea of telemedicine has actually been around for decades, when hospitals needed to extend patient care to rural, remote areas. It has developed rapidly to other segments, such as home health care and physicians offices. Services include email, smart phone technology and two-way video communication.
Telemedicine is a rapidly growing healthcare tool, due to the rapid increase of out-of-pocket costs and narrowing provider networks.
The use of telemedicine has also increased as employers and employees embrace wellness incentives and seek greater efficiency in their health care model. Time away from work effects not only the employee financially, but there is also a loss of productivity and "presenteeism".
Physicians are implementing alternatives to traditional office visits as demand for their time increases. Patients are connected electronically to glucose trackers, pacemakers and many other remote monitoring devices.
Mobile apps such as fitness trackers, weight management programs and personal health coaching tools have become increasingly popular and personalized.
If all that is needed is a quick, easy diagnosis resulting in a prescription for a non-narcotic drug, telemedicine allows a simple phone call, which avoids time off work along with lowering health care claims cost. Some examples of illness that can be treated through telemedicine include sinus infections, flu symptoms, ear aches, and sore throats. Most services provide 24/7 access to accommodate evening and weekend concerns.
Telemedicine offers an attractive alternative to traditional office visits, saving patients time and money, while providing needed health care.