In the 1960s, one of the hot cartoons of the time was called “The Jetsons.” It was set in a technologically advanced future. In one scene, the show highlighted the youngest son, Elroy, in a video conference with his doctor. Telemedicine was predicted all the way back in the 1960s by a show known for the elaborate inventions and whimsical beliefs of what the future would look like.
Now that telemedicine is here, getting to know the true origins is essential. After all, knowing how something developed is the best way to continue its growth and development.
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine is a term used to describe the delivery of medical care and clinical services using telecommunications. It is affordable and convenient for doctors and patients. It allows doctors to see and treat patients face-to-face without having to be in the same room – or the same zip code.
The most significant debate related to telemedicine today involves effective reimbursement policies and the issue of developing a meaningful provider-patient relationship. Many are also worried about how trending technology, such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, and smart devices, can be leveraged to continue innovating this new service.
To better understand the future of telemedicine, it is a good idea to take a dive into its past.
The Evolution of Telemedicine
In some form, telemedicine has been around since the 1950s. At this time, hospital systems and universities were leveraging the telephone to share consultations, patient images, and records from one location to another. There was also a telemedicine concept envisioned in 1925 by inventor Hugo Grensback. He illustrated a teledactyl, which was a robot that provided a doctor video game that allowed them to evaluate and diagnose remote patients.
The goal of this technology was to connect patients who lived in a remote location and delivered the same level of care a patient would receive if they were in the same room as the doctor. In the 1960s, the US government put a lot of money into defense departments and public health to help increase innovation and research into the realm of telemedicine.
Even though telemedicine still helps hospitals deliver a high level of care to areas that are remote or that have minimal access to health care equipment and professionals. Today, telemedicine has evolved and become a tool that provides a higher level of convenience to more patients than before.
The change has been enhanced by new developments in personal medical devices and smart devices. Today, patients are empowered to track their health applications on their smart devices. Patients even can communicate with primary doctors through HIPAA compliant messaging software, which includes emails and texts. After all, there is no reason for patients to spend time in a waiting room when they can receive immediate care through a video conference.
Examples of How Telemedicine is Used Today
Today, telemedicine is used in several ways. From in home health to follow up visits, learn more about how it is used here.
Follow-up visits and check-ups can be used instead of in-person visits and help prevent hospital readmissions. The likelihood of a missed appointment and no-shows is also reduced when telemedicine is used. It is also much easier to get onto a secure video call than to take time off work to make it to an in-person appointment.
Another use of telemedicine is chronic disease management. With the use of telemedicine software along with mobile health (mHealth) software solutions, it is possible to manage all types of chronic diseases. Many chronic diseases already take a huge toll on patients, and telemedicine offers an affordable and easy way for individuals to maintain control over their health and maintain a quality relationship with their care provider.
Assisted living visits are also possible with telemedicine. With this technology, the need for in-person visits to assisted living facilities is eliminated. Caregivers and doctors can remotely visit patients at any time of the day, helping to reduce the need for unnecessary visits to the hospital.
Telehealth versus Telemedicine
Since telemedicine is still evolving, the distinction between telehealth and telemedicine is becoming less defined. According to the ATA (American Telemedicine Association), telemedicine and telehealth are often used interchangeably. This is because both provide patients with the ability to enjoy patient consultation and monitoring, to access various medical expertise and information, and to transmit medical reports and Images.
However, Some Vendors Differentiate Between These Two.
Telehealth refers to the whole spectrum of remote health care services delivered through virtual technologies and telecommunications. It provides a way to offer clinical services and solutions through telehealth. Essentially, telemedicine is considered a subset under the umbrella of telehealth. It provides medical and clinical services to individuals using technology such as auto, text messaging, and video conferencing. Telehealth is a much broader concept than telemedicine, and it includes services such as non-clinical providers, administrative training, personal fitness tracking devices, and more.
What is mHealth?
The mHealth is a type of telemedicine that includes the provision of medical and clinical services using cell phones or other mobile, wireless devices. Some examples of modern mHealth include low-cost medical devices that may be attached to tablets or mobile phones; the use of “smart” pill boxes that notify caregivers and patients who forget to take their medicine and other mobile health applications.
The Ongoing Positive Impact of Telemedicine
When it comes to telemedicine, there are more than a few things that need to be considered. Being informed and knowing the positive impact that this can have is essential to see what it may offer in the future.
Knowing what this technology has to offer is just the first step. Using it and getting the benefits provided is the best way for anyone to reap the benefits provided by this technology. Keep in mind, it is continually evolving and will continue to improve to make the process of using telemedicine technology easier and more convenient as time passes.