Telemedicine encompasses current prevalent technologies to deliver medical care virtually. Physicians can perform consultations, review lab work, patient photos and other services to treat their patients remotely via a video chat via a mobile application for smartphones or tablets as well as desktop and laptop computers.
Another advantage with telemedicine is the ability to work with top physicians that normally would not be possible due to geographical barriers. Furthermore, telemedicine can offer better care because it allows the patient to engage with his physician or medical professional on a more frequent basis.
Telemedicine continues to evolve at lightning speed thanks in part to its tie with technology. Although telemedicine was introduced some fifty years ago, in the last decade it has advanced and evolved at 1000X, incorporating greater complexity of services in healthcare facilities, homes, hospitals and physician private practices.
During the 1950’s medical schools who had their own hospitals, began conducting early experiments in telemedicine. The first attempt involved the transmission of radiologic images through the telephone. Shortly after through the use of interactive two-way television, neurological exam results were successfully transmitted a short distance between two medical university campuses. The main bottleneck in telemedicine of yesterday was transmission distance. There was no WIFI or fiber optic cables, and as a result, telemedicine services were limited to only well-funded organizations such as the U.S. Department of Defense, NASA and some Public Health Departments.
Originally, telemedicine was developed so that patients who were located in remote areas which lacked hospitals, medical clinics and/or physicians, could still be treated. Despite the fact that telemedicine is still used today for its originally intended purpose, it has become a practical and necessary tool in today’s modern medical practice. The connectivity available through technology today, gives patients the option to get immediate care when they need it while accommodating their busy schedules.
While change can be tough, many recent legislative changes have implemented technology at the top of the list for healthcare in an effort to improve affordability, efficiency of services and quality of care just to name a few.
Many employers have begun to contract with telemedical services directly. The main reason for this is that the cost of health care and insurance continues to increase at an alarming rate. The average current doctor’s office visit costs about $125, while the average telemedicine visit is approximately $40. Moreover, in the last few years more than 65% of the largest employers in the United States provide specific coverage telemedicine. Furthermore, state and federal continue to promote and improve the availability of telemedicine services for patients including access for CHIP Reauthorization Act and Medicare.