Telemedicine services have been in business since the hieroglyphs and scrolls have existed. That might be surprising to hear, but practitioners and doctors have been making use of it for a long time now. Only now has it revolutionized to become a part of healthcare facilities more regularly, not just in the United States but worldwide. Some specializations use telemedicine more than the others, such as Cardiologists, radiologists, and psychiatrists.
During the pandemic, all the medical specialties are forced to shift towards telemedicine with the restrictions around social distancing. However, it looks like it has come to stay even when lives go back to normal around the globe. Therefore, how healthcare is being provided now might be a turning point in the field of medicine.
Background of Telemedicine
Telemedicine is a service dedicated to assisting and improving a person’s health by permitting a distant two-way interaction between a provider and a receiver. It is a branch of telehealth used since towns used smoke to warn other neighboring towns of sickness. With the emergence of phones and typewriters, the game changed as practitioners and patients started communicating more efficiently.
When the Civil war broke out, telegraphs were used to report casualties and request medical supplies. Fast forward to the Korean and Vietnam war that lasted for years; phones were used to dispatch medicine squads. Telepsychiatry was the first field of telemedicine that invented the concept of videoconferencing in the year 1959. This was done at the Nebraska Psychiatric Institute after the emergence of television.
The revolution of telemedicine, the one we see in today’s world, developed with the assistance of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Physicians used virtual medical means to enquire, diagnose, and provide treatments for astronauts during their flights. It wasn’t just used for the wellbeing of the astronauts in space, but rural locations in Minnesota, New Hampshire, Maine, Alaska, Arizona, and Washington were also provided with telemedicine services during the 70s and 80s.
Then came the internet that completely transformed how the world operates today. During the 90s, with the emergence of the internet, tremendous improvements were made in sharing X-ray scans, vital signs, ECGs, and live audio and video communication. Now that almost everyone in urban cities owns phones and electronic devices, telemedicine is accessible to all. Pew Research Center came up with a report in 2021 that says that 90% 0f Americans use the internet while 81% use smartphones, 75% desktops, and 50% own tablets. With the prevalence of smart technology, departments like telehealth and telemedicine are thriving.
You now have digital stethoscopes, smartphone cameras, ophthalmoscopes, otoscopes, and wearable biosensors to avail services such as:
- View Results
- Refill Medication
- Communicate with physicians directly through call or video
- Share reports with the physicians
- Record and transmit data to healthcare professionals
Telemedicine Before Covid-19
With this shift towards a virtual world, telemedicine services are more easily accessible. From the year 2010 to 2017, there was a whopping increase of 41% in video and other technology by hospitals in connecting to their patients. This is also reflected in the insurance claim statistics as telemedicine insurance claims increased 53% in a single year from 2016 to 2017.
Rules and Regulations
The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights states that these six rights for health must be provided to every human: accessibility, availability, participation, accountability, acceptability, and good quality. While Medicaid has deemed telemedicine services an acceptable alternative to traditional in-person consultations, other five rights are still under question. Therefore, due to the law and order conditions, the utilization of telemedicine faces challenges. Each state has its law governing coverage, privacy, and security, online prescription, etc.
Telemedicine and Current Application
Telemedicine has become a way for people to receive medical treatment even before physically reaching out to the health center with the ongoing global pandemic. You may be self-quarantined, but virtual services will be provided without the trouble of visiting the center if you require medical attention. This ensures the continued care provided, ensuring the safety of the patients and the health care providers. Patients who are affected by Covid-19 can have their respiratory symptoms assessed and have it treated earlier on without having to reach out to in-person emergency care.
The telemedicine services provided to patients currently includes:
- Remote follow-up sessions – save up on time, money, reduced last-minute cancellations, video call follow-ups increase compliance, ease the life of patients and service providers.
- With chronic conditions on the rise in the US, chronic disease care is predicted to increase to 164 million by 2025; managing patients virtually has become more time and cost-effective.
- Care following a hospital release – care after hospital release is important to avoid readmissions. Follow up with patients for their aftercare and medication reduces their chances of relapse.
- Hyper specialty care – If the specialization that’s needed is not available in your city, you do not have to travel a great distance to reach them.
- Team-based medicinal services – for certain medical conditions, a team of doctors and health care providers is needed. Telemedicine services make it easier for them to work together and provide the patient with the appropriate treatment.
- Online second opinions – second opinions are good for self-satisfaction as you cross-check the treatment you are receiving. If virtual health services are available, it makes it hassle-free to ask for a second opinion.
- Mental health facilities – there have been numerous studies done on the treatment of mental health conditions and telemedicine, suggesting that virtual health services are similar to that of face-to-face interaction when treating depression and PTSD.
- Support of lifestyle – quitting smoking, weight loss, heart conditions, diabetes, etc., can be treated virtually.
- Elderly care – care homes and assisted facilities and at-home older people can be assisted professionally at any hour.
- School-based care – kids get sick at school all the time, and having the parents take them to health centers can be long and disruptive for the child. Video calls with health care providers are an easier way out.
Healthcare services have evolved with time and are more accessible than before throughout the world. Improvements and advancements are being made constantly. If you want to consider a reliable platform for yourself, contact our experts as we run a HIPAA-compliant telemedicine facility. Getting medical care was never this easy before.