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What is Telemedicine?

by Alyssa Adler on November 7, 2016

What is Telemedicine?

By Alyssa Adler

Telemedicine is the exchange of medical information through the use of electronic devices, according to the American Telemedicine Association (ATA). Some of the communicating methods that are used include email, smart phones, two-way video, and other wireless tools and telecommunication gadgets. In recent years, telemedicine has shown a rapid increase in popularity due to technological advancements such as faster Internet connections and widespread smartphone usage.

Telemedicine is especially prominent in rural areas where hospitals and medical centers are sparse. Just outside of St. Louis there is a Virtual Care Center, which provides medical care via telemedicine to 38 small hospitals in North Carolina and Oklahoma.

Telemedicine is a different form of care because it provides less hands-on care from the doctor, but instead the doctor can instruct the nurse directly by video on what to do if the patient were in need of care. According to the Wall Street Journal, there has been a 35% decrease in patient’s average length of stay, meaning that those patients were able to make it home rather than stay in a hospital.

Telemedicine is continuing to show rapid increases in the United States. The ATA predicts a 30% increase in telemedicine this coming year. In addition, according to a survey in March 2016, there is about a 25% increase of employers who are now offering telemedicine benefits to employees. The same survey found that 72% of hospitals and 52% of physician groups offer telemedicine services.

According to the American Telemedicine Association, there have been significant studies that telemedicine is more cost effective when compared to traditional medical care approaches. Other benefits that patients noted in a Harris online survey other than cost savings are convenience, easier refills on prescriptions and increased communications.

With the many benefits of telemedicine there are also a few challenges. There is a question of whether the quality of care can remain high with the increased advancements of technology. Also, telemedicine guidelines and insurance coverage vary from state to state. According to the Harris online pole, other patient concerns include that the data may not be secure through technology, the loss of a personal relationship with providers, and Internet connection issues.

With its pros and cons, telemedicine does have the potential to be the new prominent form of medical care, especially for non-emergency cases. Relating to cancer patients, this new form of medical care can ease the treatment process in terms of increasing quality of life by providing convenient care at home. Who knows, maybe one-day virtual doctors appointments will become the new annual doctors visit?

 


Alyssa Adler is a recent Boston University Graduate from Long Island, New York. She is a 2016 CFYL summer web intern. She graduated in May 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition Sciences with a concentration in Dietetics. Her goal is to attend graduate school in the fall of 2017 in pursuit of a Masters degree in dietetics and eventually obtain her Registered Dietitian license. Last June, Alyssa started a food blog called Red Delicious and Nutritious. Her blog focuses on healthy eating and living and how decadent foods can be made wholesome and delicious.

 

 

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