The biggest problem facing the healthcare industry today is, to bring the right clinical expertise to the right place at the right time. Non availability of the right medical expertise at the required time leads to millions of death every year.
Telemedicine aims to change these statistics forever
Telemedicine is the use of telecommunication and information technology to provide and support health care to patients living in isolated communities and remote regions. Instead of going to the doctor, telemedicine allows the doctor to come to you. From the use of robotics to deliver medical procedures, to cell phone applications that provide consumer health information, such modern wonders hold the promise of revolutionizing the delivery of health.
Poor infrastructure, non-availability of medical experts, low doctor-patient ratio makes telemedicine extremely relevant to our present society.
Although little-known by the public until recently, telemedicine has been in use for over 30 years allowing specialists to diagnose or monitor patients from a distance. Whether it involves cell phone applications that help the chronically ill monitor their conditions, online web sites providing consumers with live video healthcare assistance or wireless services allowing a doctor to monitor their patients while away, the barriers of distance are falling apart.
The future applications of telemedicine are immense
Let’s have a look at a few revolutionizing changes telemedicine is ought to bring to the future of healthcare facility:
- With digital imaging, radiologists no longer have to be located next to an imaging device.
- Attempts to facilitate surgeries with the help of robotic arms are being experimented upon in the better connected parts of the world.
- Telemedicine can allow patients to access health services at home, in their workplace or wherever they may be located.
- Pacemaker or other implantable cardiac device can be monitored from a distance. Clinical systems that remotely collect patient readings can generate alerts to physicians indicating that prompt intervention is needed to prevent complications.
- Telemedicine can provide remote consultations for patients in rural areas or in off-hours.
- Telemedicine can enable the expert supervision of a trained practitioner during complex surgeries by beaming live video feed from the operation theater to the supervising doctor.
- Another important benefit of telemedicine would be to eliminate the possible transmission of infectious diseases or parasites between patients and medical staff. This need has recently been highlighted by the contamination and health risks posed by the Ebola virus for health care workers and doctors.
- Also patients who feel uncomfortable in a doctor’s office may do better remotely.
In recent years, many Government and non government medical institutions have started offering telemedicine facilities to benefit the needy. However in a few countries, licensing and credentialing issues pose as major obstacles in the path of telemedicine.
With Telemedicine gradually becoming a reality, barriers created by existing payment structures, regulatory policies, IT architectures, corporate boundaries, resistance to change and technology limitations need to be surpassed in order to make healthcare accessible to distant masses.
Healthcare is in a seismic state of transition that hasn’t been seen for many decades. The fundamental goal of changing healthcare from “fee for service” to “fee for value” is enabling telemedicine to transition from a research topic to mainstream medicine.