Telemedicine has opened new realms of healthcare by enabling patients and medical professionals to connect remotely. The World Health Organization (WHO) refers to telemedicine as healing from a distance.
Telemedicine has been a turning point for the healthcare industry. Be it a busy schedule or a housebound condition, people are increasingly inclined toward telehealth. A report published in 2020 states that 71% of the people in the US considered telemedicine as an alternative to in-person consultations.
Telemedicine is the use of telecommunications in medicine to make healthcare more accessible and cost-effective for patients. It involves the interaction and coordination of experts in rural areas. It can be applied for remote diagnosis and rehabilitation assistance.
There are multiple innovative ways to conduct telemedicine. The most common way is HIPAA compliant video conferencing, wherein patients consult with doctors and primary care physician over video calls. Some telemedicine processes are executed with portable kits–mobile devices, high-quality cameras, and telemedicine devices–to record the patient’s vitals. The physician then remotely sends detailed reports to specialists for further consultation, diagnosis, and treatment.
The rising implementation of telemedicine is setting the standard for improved healthcare, as patients can connect with Medicare professionals from anywhere in the world for better health outcomes.
Telemedicine improves healthcare accessibility to people living in rural regions. Patients with chronic conditions can avail of remote consultations without traveling long distances to visit their doctor. They can travel to their local healthcare centers and connect with doctors remotely.
Similarly, telemedicine simplifies the diagnosis of chronic diseases, treatment via in-person visits, and follow-ups for old and bedridden elderly patients. Patients need not pay frequent visits to the hospital; they can get the best-in-class medical attention at home.
Telehealth benefits in reducing the burden on an overwhelmed healthcare industry. Doctors and telehealth providers can use the flexibility of telemedicine to cater to more patients without frequent rounds at the hospital.
Remote consultation helps healthcare teams cut down on several aspects, including traveling to the hospital or clinic, preparing the examination room for every patient, and intermittent sanitation procedures. It also reduces the doctor’s exposure to contagious diseases.
Portable telemedicine kits are equipped with the latest telemedicine devices that can help patients monitor their vitals at home and send detailed reports to the doctor in real-time. Alternatively, trained physicians can instantly record patients’ vitals and send them instantly and securely to the specialist in charge for improved treatment.
Telemedicine enables better storage of patient information and comprehensive analytics for better diagnosis and treatment. You can track daily vitals, assess the patient’s response to the treatment, and make modifications whenever required.
With telemedicine, patients no longer need to drive to the hospital or spend time in overcrowded waiting rooms to see their physicians. Virtual consultations help patients book their online consultations according to their schedules without taking a day off from work or compromising their daily routines.
Not all illnesses can be treated with short-term medicine courses. Some chronic illnesses have limited treatments and specialists available. Such conditions require patients to travel long distances and visit different cities or countries with advanced R&D and telehealth technology for medicines.
Telemedicine makes it possible for patients access to telehealth services to receive world-class in-person care without physically traveling to healthcare institutions. Patients can access telehealth services to consult the best healthcare professionals regardless of distance.
Given the massive benefits that telemedicine presents, it is no surprise that the healthcare industry is rapidly inclining toward it. Telemedicine is a fast-evolving concept with promising and futuristic trends. Here’s a quick overview of a few of those trends:
The internet-of-things (IoT) has revolutionized the current healthcare industry and holds great promise for telemedicine in the future. The ability of various telemedicine devices to connect and share information with hospital servers or cloud storage can help doctors obtain real-time medicare data and deliver high quality care. Currently, many people use smartwatches to monitor their heart rates and other vitals. Such wearable devices can prove extremely beneficial in continuous patient monitoring. These devices, when IoT-enabled, can store accurate information directly on the cloud, which also minimizes manual tracking errors.
Implementing advanced telemedicine devices that generate health charts and disease profiles and offer comprehensive analytics can reduce diagnosis and treatment times. Automated reports and analytics can improve patient monitoring and enhance preventive care and treatments.
Artificial Intelligence has been in the limelight since it allows the healthcare industry to leverage automation and slash manual work. Telehealth’s future is likely to be influenced by AI tools to help patients access instant treatments by registering their symptoms. Healthcare chatbots integrated into telehealth platforms can be a massive time savior for patients and doctors. AI enables the automation of administrative tasks, including booking appointments, downloading prescriptions, and uploading the latest health reports.
Virtual hospitals or medical care centers are a near-future possibility. With the help of telehealth, AI, and IoT, virtual hospital solutions are being conceptualized to provide remote healthcare assistance and hospital-level care. Integrated with a patient app, virtual healthcare teams, high-quality video streaming health services, secure cloud storage, and a central admin panel, virtual hospitals could be game changers.
Telemedicine is a relatively new concept and healthcare professionals and hospital authorities must consider its limitations before they implement it. Despite being tremendously beneficial for the healthcare industry, telemedicine can present strong challenges.
All medical practitioners involved in conducting telemedicine must ensure that the platform used to connect their patients is secure. There are several regulations, like the HIPAA compliance of 1996, which make it mandatory for healthcare providers and institutions to protect sensitive patient health information (PHI).
The inability to keep patients’ digital health information private can lead to a series of penalties and legal actions against healthcare professionals. The platform chosen for online consultation must have a strong security feature set, including encrypted communication, to ensure patient health data privacy.
As mobility continues to penetrate the healthcare industry, most medical professionals access work apps and medical records on their personal devices. This presents a huge risk of data breaches. Ensuring that health professionals use devices that are devoid of security threats is a complex task. Healthcare institutions must ensure that all doctors, primary care providers, and healthcare professionals are trained in BYOD and data security best practices.
To transition into telemedicine, healthcare institutions must invest in multitudes of mobile devices for their doctors and healthcare specialists. Even healthcare facilities that have adopted a BYOD policy need to manage hundreds and thousands of mobile devices belonging to their doctors.
Monitoring devices, ensuring compliance with corporate policies, distributing in-house healthcare apps, and ensuring corporate data safety can thus be a challenge for hospital authorities.
Telemedicine can function smoothly only when patients and healthcare professional are seamlessly connected through mobile devices. But what happens when a doctor encounters a device issue in the middle of a consultation? Time is a decisive factor for the healthcare industry. It is important that all medical professionals conducting telemedicine are exposed to super-quick resolutions when they face device issues. Else, doctors may end up spending a lot of critical time waiting for support and the technical issue to be resolved.
Telemedicine has helped the healthcare industry maximize its efficiency and deliver enhanced patient experience. The healthcare industry needs to implement measures to overcome the telemedicine challenges to reap the maximum benefits of a connected health system.
Scalefusion MDM is a device and endpoint management platform designed to help hospitals and healthcare institutions deploy telemedicine at scale. Administrators can keep track of their doctors’ devices, configure security policies for maximum efficiency, and ensure compliance with global patient data privacy laws.
Telemedicine has paved a new way for the healthcare industry to extend improved quality of care for patients, based on the rapid rate of its evolution, it is safe to say that this is just the start. The healthcare industry can make the most of this futuristic approach by streamlining its remote operations with Scalefusion Healthcare MDM.