What is Telemedicine and How Has it Impacted Healthcare?
Telemedicine is a new and relatively simple concept that is already having a major impact on healthcare. In essence, telemedicine is the use of telecommunications technologies to give patients diagnosis and treatment advice remotely. This could happen over the phone, through email, or in a video conference. That may not sound revolutionary, but for the entire history of medicine the patient and treatment specialist have basically had to be in the same room, at times creating challenges for all involved. Here are a few of the ways telemedicine is making things easier for both doctors and patients:
Improved Access to Healthcare
For many patients, simply getting from their home to a designated healthcare facility can be an insurmountable challenge. They may live in a remote area, be unable to drive, or be unable to afford the cost of regular travel. Telemedicine allows them to bypass transportation completely and receive authoritative medical advice in their own home. That extends access to a wide swath of previously underserved patients.
A lot can go wrong on the way to the hospital. Relying on telemedicine allows doctors and patients to connect with each other faster, which is essential in an emergency situation. In addition, since patients can reach out to medical professionals whenever they have questions or concerns , rather than having to make an appointment, telemedicine has been shown to have a measurable effect on mortality rates, the length of hospital stays, and the frequency of complications.
Telemedicine is able to cut the cost of healthcare in a number of ways. Many costly trips to the hospital are eliminated, and many unnecessary tests are bypassed because patients receive medical advice faster. Patients save time because they do not have to take off of work to visit the doctor, and providers save time because they can extend treatment outside the walls of high-cost clinical facilities.
There is a shortage of doctors nationwide, particularly in certain specialty fields, and this shortage disproportionately affects patients in rural areas. Telemedicine is helping to address this shortage by connecting qualified doctors with a larger group of patients. They may be separated by hundreds of miles, but they can still have a meaningful doctor/patient relationship.
There is a mutual relationship between telemedicine and health information management (HIM). At their core, both are about using digital tools to share medical information faster and more efficiently. If your organization is pursuing telemedince initiatives, plan on your HIM staff’s workload increasing. Find the qualified HIM professionals you need to ensure the project runs smoothly by working with MedPartners.