Current Benefits for Physicians Considering Telemedicine

Telemedicine may be relatively new, but it seems to be taking off across North America, with electronic communications such as image sharing, remove monitoring of patients, and even video conferencing. This type of healthcare is different from telehealth which can include other aspects of medicine such as research or admin, where telemedicine is mostly revolving around the actual diagnosing and treating of patients via distance and equipment. The first time that this type of practice became available was actually way back in the 1960s when a microwave line was used beneath the Boston Harbor to connect a hospital with the International airport in Logan for the treatment of a patient at the airport. Since then, it has developed into a highly advanced form of medical practice that includes many fields in the healthcare community such as dermatology, cardiology, and even behavioral and mental health.

Although this method of practicing has brought about many pros and cons to consider, especially if you’re thinking about taking on telemedicine fulltime, there are many benefits that have become apparent over time. Below is a list of a few of the ways that this type of medicine could advance the medical world.

Speedy Diagnosis and Treatment of Strokes

One area where telemedicine has shown to come in handy is during and after a stroke. This requires a firm and fast diagnosis, with key symptoms that must be spotted in time to make a difference. These can pop up before, during, and even hours after a stroke has occurred, and requires the administering of medication. The tPA or Tissue Plasminogen Activator, which is the medicine used for this type of medical issue, must be given to the patient within three to five hours following the occurrence of the stroke for the best benefit. Unfortunately, rural physicians don’t always have access to a neurologist, or the tools required to make a firm diagnosis on the subject.

This form of medical treatment in the telemedicine world has even been given its own reference, being called telestroke services, which have shown significant improvements to treatments across the country. Aside from showing an increase of speed in treatment time of up to 20 minutes, it also has reduced emergency room transfers in some hospitals by as much as 90%. Telestroke diagnosis has been completed through videoconferencing, as well as less high tech forms of patient communication, such as smartphone photo sharing, and image archiving between physicians.

Creating a More Advanced Intensive Care System

Aside from the above mentioned forms of medicine that are now being treated through telemedicine, it has also made its way into the ICU, and has been a huge help in assisting doctors and nurses who need a second opinion on critical matters. Tele-ICU services assist physicians who are trying to treat multiple patients at once in a unit where every second can be critical. Everything from an alteration in blood pressure or the change in heart rate can tell a nurse or doctor that something is wrong, and telemedicine allows for better monitoring of these patients without the concern of missing something important. This type of diagnosis and monitoring is done using cameras that are mounted on the wall, so that other doctors may assist with managing large case loads.

This gives access to patient data, lab results, notes from other doctors, and of course vital signs, so that critical care staff can rest easy knowing that while they treat another patient, others aren’t being ignored. As a remote physician you also won’t be facing the same types of distractions as others in the physical ICU so you have a better chance of catching problems before they will occur.

In Home Rehabilitation Possibilities

With crowded hospitals, having the option to send patients home and still have them appropriately monitored by a trained physician is an immense improvement over previous years. Having the ability to connect with these patients through telemedicine and video monitoring systems, gives patients and their families the chance to go home and rehabilitate in a comfortable environment without the fear of being incapable of dealing with an emergency should it arise. It also gives rise to connecting with patients who might have trouble leaving their homes regularly, such as those suffering from neurological disorders like dementia or Parkinson’s disease.

This can also be beneficial for mental therapy, especially in leading group sessions in clinics or seniors homes. Video monitoring and exchange can give patients who might otherwise be unable to access this type of treatment the option to participate, and create a better quality of life for themselves.

Reduce Diabetes, and Encourage Better Behaviors

Glycemic control can be a difficult thing to achieve for patients with diabetes, particularly if they aren’t being monitored. Your interaction with a patient can promote self-efficacy and help them to believe that they can manage their conditions on their own with a little help from you. With activities, better eating habits, and the proper application of medication this condition can be easily controlled in most cases, and by connecting to assist in counting calories, monitoring schedules and logging workouts using mobile applications and other technology this is possible.

Telemedicine and Oral Health

It isn’t only medical physicians that are finding vast improvements through the use of this technology, dentists and other oral health professionals are also seeing benefits as store-and-forward imaging allows dentists to assess data, transfer it to others in their field, and confidently diagnose a patient. As these progressions continue, there is bound to be more attention and advancement in this type of technology, allowing for even more capabilities in telemedicine.

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