Questions To Ask Yourself When Considering Telemedicine

Telemedicine has revolutionized the healthcare industry, especially for rural areas and patients with limited health coverage. As it has developed into a fully accepted form of practicing medicine, many physicians have begun to join the ranks of other doctors and nurses who are becoming settled into the field. Of course there are pros and cons to any new venture in medicine, and while the benefits are many for doctor and patient alike, there are definitely some serious questions to ask yourself before you get involved in treating your patients through this method.

As a medical professional you want to be prepared, understand the priorities and consequences of this type of affiliation, and also minimize the risks that you might incur along the way. As telemedicine becomes more and more accepted across North America and other countries around there world, the advantages seem to be growing as well, but protecting yourself through becoming informed is the best way to stay on top of things and find success in this new field.

How Can Telemedicine Save Time And Money?

It’s certainly true that attending to patients through telemedicine will disrupt your usual routine if it’s something new for you and your practice, but once you’ve developed a sound philosophy and streamlined your flow of patients you can easily save time, and increase revenue through this type of operation. Speaking to patients through the telephone or online video messaging gives you the ability to communicate directly during times that you may have otherwise been unable to see somebody needing help. Time between scheduled appointments can be filled with returning patients calls to speak with them about their health problems or concerns, and unlike in previous years, it also allows you to get compensated for this time.

What Type Of Risk Management Is Required?

Telemedicine may not be as hands on as physical patient contact, but there are still risks to consider, and liabilities to worry about. In order to properly utilize the telemedicine capabilities that are now available, you and your patients must both have all of the required tools and hardware to communicate and form some type of treatment without your hands on practice and office equipment put into use. Software security is also a concern, and safe transmission of data such as patient’s SSN and medical records must be properly protected. Before becoming involved, you should look into both the federal government’s stipulations on participation, as well as state laws that may prevent you from performing certain types of treatments over a telephone or computer system.

Will Decisions Still Be Sound And Clinical Through Telemedicine?

As mentioned above, in order to fully appreciate telemedicine and be able to utilize it to its highest potential, patients will require equipment or secondary medical assistance within their area. This can be quite helpful to rural locations that don’t have an oncologist or pediatrician available, but that does have a general practitioner that can carry out recommendations and write prescriptions. The information that you share with your patients is as sound and professional through this mode of communication as they are by any other means so long as you treat them with the same attitude and level of priority. Interacting with patients, whether physical or through technology, requires integrity, respect, and authority, and if you can keep that same level of quality and tone when using telemedicine as you can when facing a patient directly then you should have no problem providing the type of care that is required.

What Type Of Additional Equipment Is Required?

In order to properly interact with your patient you will need a monitor, and the size and type will depend on how clear you want images to be, and how large of a screen you wish to see them upon. Some practices choose to operate with more than one monitor at a time, connected to a single computer system. You’ll also need to invest in a high quality internet signal, and a secure operating system for the best quality of service. Echo-cancelling microphones in either uni or omni directional formats, as well as image automation software will be required to communicate properly as well. The type of software for image automation will be used for capturing and storing images used during a diagnosis and treatment plan for possible later observation or use. Video cameras, cables, and peripherals will also be required for examinations, and while standardized equipment should make this type of purchase easier in the future, currently, there is a wide and generalized concept for what is appropriate.

Whether you’re choosing to work for yourself from home or an office, or you’ve decided to work with a telemedicine firm or online practice that specializes in this type of care, these and other questions should always be asked before you make the decision to become serious in your endeavors with telehealthcare.

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