Strictly defined, Telemedicine is the use of telecommunication and information technologies in order to provide clinical health care at a distance. It helps eliminate distance barriers and can improve access to medical services that would often not be consistently available in distant rural communities. It is also used to save lives in critical care and emergency situations.
Our Telemedicine carts are essential components in our continuing drive to unite technology with medicine. Listed below are some common applications of telemedicine:
Primary care and specialist referral services may involve a primary care or allied health professional providing a consultation with a patient or a specialist assisting the primary care physician in rendering a diagnosis. This may involve the use of live interactive video or the use of store and forward transmission of diagnostic images, vital signs and/or video clips along with patient data for later review.
Remote patient monitoring, including home telehealth, uses devices to remotely collect and send data to a home health agency or a remote diagnostic testing facility (RDTF) for interpretation. Such applications might include a specific vital sign, such as blood glucose or heart ECG or a variety of indicators for homebound patients. Such services can be used to supplement the use of visiting nurses.
Consumer medical and health information includes the use of the Internet and wireless devices for consumers to obtain specialized health information and on-line discussion groups to provide peer-to-peer support.
Medical education provides continuing medical education credits for health professionals and special medical education seminars for targeted groups in remote locations.
Telemedicine can be extremely beneficial for people living in isolated communities and remote regions and is currently being applied in virtually all medical domains. Patients who live in such areas can be seen by a doctor or specialist, who can provide an accurate and complete examination, while the patient may not have to travel or wait the normal distances or times like those from conventional hospital or GP visits.
Telemedicine can be used as a teaching tool, by which experienced medical staff can observe, show and instruct medical staff in another location, more effective or faster examination techniques. It improved access to healthcare for patients in remote locations. “Telemedicine has been shown to reduce the cost of healthcare and increase efficiency through better management of chronic diseases, shared health professional staffing, reduced travel times, and fewer or shorter hospital stays.” Several studies have documented increased patient satisfaction of telemedicine over the past fifteen years.
Telenursing refers to the use of telecommunications and information technology in order to provide nursing services in health care whenever a large physical distance exists between patient and nurse, or between any number of nurses. As a field it is part of telehealth, and has many points of contacts with other medical and non-medical applications, such as telediagnosis, teleconsultation, telemonitoring, etc.
Telenursing is achieving significant growth rates in many countries due to several factors: the preoccupation in reducing the costs of health care, an increase in the number of aging and chronically ill population, and the increase in coverage of health care to distant, rural, small or sparsely populated regions. Among its benefits, telenursing may help solve increasing shortages of nurses; to reduce distances and save travel time, and to keep patients out of hospital. A greater degree of job satisfaction has been registered among telenurses.
Telepharmacy is another growing trend for providing pharmaceutical care to patients at remote locations where they may not have physical contact with pharmacists. It encompasses drug therapy monitoring, patient counseling, prior authorization, refill authorization, monitoring formulary compliance with the aid of teleconferencing or videoconferencing. In addition, video-conferencing is vastly utilized in pharmacy for other purposes, such as providing education, training, and performing several management functions.
Want more information? Head over to our friends at the American Telemedicine Association for all things Telehealth.
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