The Virtual World of Healthcare
Imagine this: you have been feeling a bit under the weather and can’t quite seem to kick your illness, so you decide to visit your healthcare provider. After doing some tests, your doctor is concerned with what the results show, and wants to refer you to a specialist whose location is five hours away. Instead of making you take off of work and travel such a far distance feeling as you do, he suggests that he connect you with the specialist via telemedicine.
Within minutes, you and your healthcare provider are holding a live video conference with the specialist, and he gets to hear first-hand your symptoms, medical history, and results of the tests that were just performed. He instructs your care provider to do some additional screenings and examinations, and just a little while later, the specialist has identified the problem and has diagnosed your illness. Thanks to telemedicine, you can leave your physician’s office that same day with all of your questions answered and with a treatment plan in place from the specialist that you would have otherwise needed to wait to see.
You can think of telemedicine as healthcare’s version of Skype, or even a medicinal use for iChat. Telemedicine uses a combination of video and still images to send patient data to physicians, without making it necessary for them to ever meet in person. It is another one of the medical industry’s greatest innovations and technological advancements, and it is connecting patients and doctors like never before.
Gone are the days when sick patients need to gather up the strength and courage to travel to their doctors’ offices or when the doctor has to visit patients at multiple locations throughout the day. Thanks to modern technology and advancements made in communications, physicians now have telemedicine, which gives them the ability to provide interactive care to their patients no matter where the two are located.
Telemedicine is also being used to provide courses and education for patients and doctors at other locations, pre-surgery screenings and consultations, test results and reports, and even the delivery of diagnoses and treatment plans. With the option for live conferencing or still image sharing, patients can connect with other healthcare providers and share their medical information in an office or, in some cases, in the comfort of their own home.
There is no doubt that the recent increased use of telemedicine has provided a lot of great benefits for patients and care providers alike, from decreased travel expenses, immediate patient care, expanded patient outreach, and more. In addition, there are a number of specialty areas where physicians have seen improvements in patient care through the use of telemedicine, such as cardiology, radiology, pathology, and even pharmacy and dentistry, and its application really has no restrictions in the areas in which it can be used.
Doctors, nurses, specialists and other healthcare providers are continually looking for ways to provide better patient care and improve lives, and telemedicine is definitely one innovation that is changing the face of medicine and allowing care providers to connect with patients without having to worry about geographical boundaries.