Telemedicine, sometimes called telehealth, is not a new concept, but its popularity has certainly increased due to the coronavirus pandemic. With many people forced to stay home, compounded by a collective fear of hospitals and clinics, telehealth has become the go-to solution for people seeking medical advice and healthcare services.
But if you’re not familiar with the concept, allow us to tell you everything you need to know about this revolutionary healthcare innovation.
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine essentially means clinical services delivered remotely via two-way real-time communication between a healthcare professional and patient. The main purpose of telehealth is to provide quick and easy access to quality healthcare. This is especially useful for people living in remote areas or places with limited healthcare.
But during the pandemic, the industry has seen a rise in telemedicine signups and consultations due to the fact that people want to stay away from hospitals and clinics as much as possible. As a result, more and more people are realizing that telemedicine will be a big part of healthcare delivery even after the pandemic.
How Does Telemedicine Work?
The way telemedicine works is simple, from a patient’s point of view, that is. You simply need to choose a telehealth platform, sign up for an account, pay for the subscription or membership, input some personal and medical information, then gain access to a wide range of healthcare services.
But unlike the traditional clinic or hospital setup, the mode of delivery or communication is via video or phone call, voice or text chat, or email. So if you’re seeking mental health counseling, a second opinion, help with prescriptions, or a regular medical exam, you simply need to log into the platform and schedule a virtual appointment.
The user interface is simple, but it’s also important to note that the technology behind is quite complex and fascinating. You’d be surprised to know that blockchain technology and artificial intelligence are also in the works to ensure your electronic health records (EHR) and billing statements are secure and intact. You may have heard about blockchain technology from a crypto marketing campaign, but this technology is also helping doctors understand their patients’ conditions better.
Advantages of Telemedicine
There are many benefits of using telemedicine, but these are the most notable ones:
With telehealth, you can skip the long commutes and wait times to get healthcare services. By simply logging in and scheduling a virtual appointment, you can consult with your doctor and get immediate advice from the comfort of your home or office. There are also luxury providers that promise a concierge medicine experience to make sure you get immediate care anytime and anywhere.
Most clinics and hospitals are packed with patients, so it’s not ideal for people who want to maintain their privacy and anonymity. But with telehealth, you get to talk with your physician privately without having to sit in a waiting room or have your name called out by a receptionist or nurse.
3. Cost savings
The fact that you won’t need to drive or commute to the clinic or hospital is an immediate cost-saving already. But there are other ways telehealth can help you save money. For instance, if you need to consult with a referral specialist who lives in a different city, you won’t need to book a flight and check-in at a hotel, you’d only need to schedule a remote consultation and your primary care physician will send over your medical records and lab test results to the specialist. Some telehealth providers also send your prescriptions to your doorstep, allowing you to save time and money.
4. Easy access to specialists
One of the main advantages of telemedicine is that it gives you easy access to a wide network of specialists that may not be available in your local area. So if you want to have the very best and seasoned specialists to be part of your medical team, telehealth will bridge the geographic boundary for you. This system also makes it easy to get second opinions from the most renowned specialists in the field so you can ensure that you’re getting the best possible care for your condition.
Telemedicine proves to be a great tool both for patients and healthcare providers as it helps decongest clinics and ER’s of non-emergent cases. But it’s still not an alternative, as people would still need to get tests and physical consults for physicians to make accurate diagnoses. Procedures like first-aid, surgery, and treatments will still need to be done in clinics and hospitals. But telehealth is useful for people with chronic conditions and those who want to take more control over their health and wellness.