Forms of Modern Telemedicine
by: Yana Passater
Lets clarify what we mean by ‘telemedicine’.
When an individual is asked to imagine telemedical assistance, a common mental visual is of a video chat conducted between a patient and a doctor. This is because of the rising popularity of video-chat visits, instead of real time person to person appointments. However, telemedicine is much more than just a chat between a doctor and a patient. Telemedicine encompasses any clinical assistance that occurs with telecommunication technology. Bellow, we have listed some of telemedicine’s main outlets.
Store and Forward –
‘Asynchronous’ telemedicine works in a store-and-forward approach. It allows healthcare professionals to share data such as gathered images, videos, and various other records, like lab results, with medical staff in other locations. Store-and-forward telemedicine solutions provide platforms for detailed and private patient information sharing between or within medical fields. This format is referred to as ‘asynchronous’ because specialists, doctors, and patients do not concurrently need to be interacting with the given information or data. It is similar to email in that no individual must be free to answer a call or a ‘ping’ at any given time. Something like a telephone call would be considered synchronous communication.
The store-and-forward approach is great for medical cites of different specializations to share diagnosis. Teleradiology is an example that relies on the store-and-forward technique, allowing doctors at small hospitals to receive diagnostics from professionals who specialize in x-rays at other locations. Other areas in which telemedicine is commonly used are teledermatology and teleopthalmology. Generally specializations that are cross-discipline can greatly benefit from a secure and medical field oriented store-and-forward platform for data sharing.
Allowing efficient communication between patients, doctors, and healthcare staff, store-and-forward telemedicine is an efficiency maker and a time saver. Certainly diagnosis can happen faster for individuals who need assistance in areas that are understaffed, or far from the possibility of specialized attention. Generally, the ability to communicate with other locations quickly, and without interfering with another medical establishment’s work day, adds up to lower patient wait times, more healthcare support for everyone, outcomes fueled by expert insight, and fluid, comfortable schedules for physicians.
Remote patient monitoring
When telemedicine is used to monitor vital signs from a distance, the practice is called RPM – Remote Patient Monitoring. Vital signs can be monitored without infringing on a patient’s privacy, with RPM. A patient who is recovering from a surgery may be able to rest at home in the community of caring family members. Concurrently, the careful attention of a doctor will be able to provide the security of knowing that they are healing appropriately. Health risks of the elderly population can also be monitored without causing undue stress due to the necessity of common doctor’s visits. This form of telemedicine is referred to as Telemonitoring and Home Telehealth.
Because Remote Patient Monitoring is such an effective way to possibly care for chronic care patients, the idea of involving technology in this way is rising in popularity among the medical community. A doctor could track a diabetic patient’s glucose levels through a glucose tracker that measures and transmits data. Regularly updated levels can be achieved with greater ease, as the inconvenience of a drive to a medical facility is not present. The only reason a patient would need to visit a hospital would be if a reading was unusual or had warning signs.
Patients and physicians need not be distant from one another in communication. As with other telemedical tools, frequent communication, at times convenient for both parties, can be achieved. With many RPM solutions, a regularly generated report could be forwarded to a physician. Often the data does not need to be collected by a single physician, rather a team of health monitoring professionals can check the incoming data for changes which need to be flagged or for sings that require a physical visit.
Successfully monitoring of patients requires the correct technology. Of course technology is in nothing close to a standstill. Thus, many modern and new tools in phones as well as wearable sports equipment make remote monitoring available to many individuals and in a variety of pleasing forms. As this technological expansion continues, prices of virtual reporting drop and, with the sway of the economic market, make equipment more accessible to a growing number of individuals.
Another form of telemedicine is the original idea – Synchronous Telemedicine. This is real time interactive medicine which requires both parties to participate that the same time. A health professional sets an appointment with their patient. Instead of either party necessarily traveling to the hospital, audio and visual communication technology can be applied for a remote visit. A video chat format is most likely the way by which the visit would occur in Real-time Telehealth.
Most telemedical software is a bit more advanced than regular video chat – phone to computer, phone to phone, or video camera to a distant computer. As medical technology is funded telemedicine will only expand in complexity. Thus patients globally would come to benefit from technology dedicated to both staying healthy and alive.
Companies such as Teladoc and DoctoronDemand are already offering direct solutions to individuals looking to use telemedicine for their healthcare needs. These companies provide immediate treatment at low expense levels. These kinds of technologies create work-life balance. With a compatible device, virtual visits can improve care outcomes by providing medical treatment in a variety of locations. The new wave of health is now upon us.