Currently, technology is permeated with every possible area of life. In this way, we gain many opportunities that are able to improve the quality of our lives. One of the areas that technology has started to develop strongly and give new opportunities is medicine. This is not just the development of research and diagnostics, but also the possibility of access to medical care every day. We call it telemedicine.
What is telemedicine?
Telemedicine is defined as: “the practice of medicine using electronic communications services that connect a clinician in one location with a patient in another location, telemedicine services can be provided live, via high-definition interactive videoconferencing, or asynchronously, using store-and-forward technologies, mobile health tools, or remote patient monitoring. Its uses range from screening for diabetic retinopathy and management of chronic conditions such as diabetes to remote diagnosis and treatment of stroke, wound management aided by store-and-forward image programs, and collaborative management of malignancies by physicians in various locations.”1
How does telemedicine work and why is telemedicine an innovation?
The origins of telemedicine are associated with army and NASA, where the diagnosis of soldiers and astronauts had to take place at a distance. Current an increasing number medical facilities make it possible for their patients to consult a doctor via telemedicine.For chronically ill patients, allows to control they health every day. It also facilitates access to specialists for people who have observed disturbing symptoms.
Usually this is on-line consultations via online platform. The patient establishes on the site an account and next he contacts via chat or video chat with a doctor who conducts a medical interview and recommends further proceedings. The patient’s account stores all medical consultations and the results of tests. Doctor during the consultation has full access to the patient’s medical history.
For the chronically ill patients are also offered permanent health monitors, which are becoming smaller due to the development of technologies. They often take form of bracelets, which monitor the parameters of the patient. In case of disorders it inform the doctor or call an ambulance. In this way, patients covered by telecare can stay outside the hospital in home with they family.
Telemedicine also allows the development of smaller hospitals by training personnel at a distance. The specialist also can assist during the surgery, constantly monitoring the patient’s condition and giving advice to the operating doctor.
The main advantages of telemedicine
Telehealth is one of those innovations that has more advantages than disadvantages. First of all, telemedicine provides access to specialist medical care for residents of small towns and villages. In this way, it increases the detectability of chronic diseases. Secondly, it provides assistance in specialist services and consultations for smaller medical centers. In this way, we reduce the waiting time for the specialistic diagnosis.
Thirdly, it improves health care in isolated or remote areas. People living far away from medical centers can have mobile medical support and they can be diagnosis by specialist after consultation in mobile health center. Fourthly, telemedicine provide a quick diagnosis and emergency medical assistance. The patient is diagnosed during transport to the hospital.
Fifth, telecare reduces permanent hospitalization of chronically ill patients. Sixthly, telemedicine increases the possibilities of improving the qualifications of medical personnel, especially in the provinces. Seventhly allows the implementation of scientific research, hitherto requiring labor-intensive commuting and the integration of data dispersed across various health care units.
1 Karen Rheuban MD, Christine Shanahan, Katherine Willson, Telemedicine: Innovation Has Outpaced Policy, AMA Journal of Ethics, 2014.