Telemedicine is the use of
medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic
communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status. Telemedicine
includes a growing variety of applications and services using two-way video,
email, smart phones, wireless tools and other forms of telecommunications
Telemedicine is not a separate medical
The practice of medicine through
telecommunications, or telemedicine, began in the early 1960s when the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) first put men in space.
Physiological measurements of the astronauts were telemetered from both the
spacecraft and the space suits during NASA space flights. These early efforts
were enhanced by the development of satellite technology that fostered the
development of telemedicine.
Now, telemedicine is expanding and may
soon redefine modern health care. With the aid of wearable health monitors,
computers, and video, doctors will be able to evaluate, diagnose, and treat
you—all without your physical presence in their office.
telemedicine used today?
Telemedicine provides opportunities to keep people
healthy and outside of hospitals. For example, in certain regions and medical
practices in the US:
- You can send a
digital image of a suspicious rash, along with your medical history, to a
dermatologist, who will review it, diagnose, and prescribe medication to treat
- You can check-in
with your doctor after surgery for follow-up care in your own home.
- If you have
diabetes, you can monitor your blood sugar levels at home and upload the
readings to your doctor's computer, saving yourself a time-consuming visit.
Irregular blood sugar levels would generate an alert to the doctor's staff to
call you in for immediate intervention to prevent complications.
- If you have
hypertension, you can wear a monitor that tracks your blood pressure daily and
transmits your results to your medical record, allowing your doctor to track
Convenience. Need a quick consultation with your doctor?
Telemedicine can save you travel time and the hassle of sitting in a waiting
room with other sick people.
Increased rural access. There’s
a shortage of doctors in many rural areas of the US.
Telemedicine has a unique capacity to increase medical service to rural
Cost and efficiency. Doctors often charge less for a
telemedicine consultation than they do for an in-person visit. A telemedicine
consult might cost $40 to $70, compared for $130 to $180 for an office visit.
In addition, telemedicine allows doctors to efficiently and closely monitor
patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Second opinions. Telemedicine allows a far-away specialist
to evaluate your MRI, X-ray, or other scans and tests. This will help patients
who want a second opinion, as well as doctors who want to consult with experts
on complicated cases.
These technologies offer convenience and huge potential cost savings, but they are not without controversy. Some doctors are concerned about the safety of prescribing drugs without examining the patient in person.Can they really assess what the patient needs over a video link? They also worry that telemedicine could depersonalize your healthcare. In addition, some medical problems will always demand a personal exam.
Sources: Berkley Wellness