For many people, follow up appointments or physical visits with their doctor can feel difficult or taxing on their bodies or their schedules. For those who feel like that, telemedicine may help support them in between visits with their clinicians.
Telemedicine, also called telehealth services, got started with the infrequent two-way television consultations that were used in the past. Today, though, it is expanding farther and reaching more people than ever before. Thanks to the use of wearable health monitors, computers, smart phones and their video capabilities, doctors can evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients without an in-person visit.
These technologies offer a significant level of convenience. Some may be concerned that telemedicine may depersonalize a person’s health care. Telemedicine for home health and hospice agencies is meant to provide telehealth support in between visits from clinicians, not in place of that care. Keep reading for some important need-to-know information about telehealth and what it has to offer.
How is Telemedicine Being Used Today?
New opportunities are emerging thanks to the availability of telemedicine. The goal of this technology is to keep people healthy and help them avoid having to go to the hospital, which decreases hospitalization rates. Some of the capabilities of telemedicine today are found here.
Telemedicine creates the ability to send digital images of a problem rash, a person’s medical history, and other pertinent information to a dermatologist. Once received, the doctor can review the information, prescribe medication, and treat the condition.
It is also possible for telehealth providers to offer in-home care for individuals after surgery or in their disease management from home. The home health team can provide follow-up visits in person and through telehealth while the patient is recovering from home.
For individuals with diabetes, they will be able to monitor their blood sugar levels while at home and upload the readings to their doctor’s computer. This helps to save them from having to go to the office for a visit. Also, if irregular levels are recorded, the staff at the doctor’s office will call to intervene and prevent any potential issues that could arise.
For those with hypertension, it is possible to wear a monitor that will track blood pressure each day and transmit the results to the person’s medical record. This lets the person’s doctor track their levels and readings over the course of treatment.
What Does the Future Hold for Telemedicine?
According to the American Telemedicine Association, it is predicted that virtual medicine will begin to benefit all Americans and patients in other countries who are unable to travel to see a doctor in the U.S. Even insurance companies have jumped on the telemedicine bandwagon.
In fact, the largest health insurer in the nation, United Healthcare, announced a partnership with a telemedicine service provider. At the end of 2016, over 20 million of the insurance company’s patients had the ability to use their smart devices to consult their doctor.
Who is Telemedicine Right For?
The fact is, there are numerous benefits offered by telemedicine. While this is true, many people may still wonder if it is right for them. Getting to know more about these specific benefits will help a person decide if it is a good option for them.
One of the biggest benefits offered by telemedicine is how convenient it is. If someone needs to have a quick chat with their doctor, telemedicine can save them the hassle and travel time of having to go to the office and then sitting in a waiting room with other people who are sick.
Another benefit is that it makes healthcare services more available in rural areas where access to healthcare can be limited or difficult to access. With telemedicine, anyone with an internet connection can get the help and care of a doctor when they need it without having to travel many miles or long hours.
Telemedicine is also a more affordable way to get healthcare services. Also, telemedicine makes it easy for doctors to closely and efficiently monitor patients who have chronic conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes.
It’s also easier to get second opinions for a diagnosis or prescribed treatment. With telemedicine, a specialist in another state or country can evaluate a patient’s X-ray, MRI, or other tests and scans to provide peace of mind that the right treatment has been given.
Telemedicine: Yes or No?
So, is telemedicine a good idea? It is a growing technology and one that many people will or have used. It offers all the benefits mentioned above and more. It is a great option for everyone, but seniors particularly can benefit as they are already vulnerable to certain diseases and conditions. With care like this, they can avoid having to be around other sick people who may make them sicker. This is beneficial for everyone and is set to help streamline the entire healthcare system.