Have you ever been too sick to travel to meet your healthcare provider to get a consultation? With the advent of telemedicine, you can get a diagnosis from the comfort of your home.
Telemedicine is the practice of connecting to a doctor via technology even when the patient is not physically present. Patients can see doctors via phone and obtain healthcare and prescriptions.
In this article, we will discuss what telemedicine is, how it differs from telehealth, and its benefits.
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine is a service that relies on communication technology to connect patients to healthcare providers. You can get consultations, diagnoses, treatment plans, and prescriptions from the best doctors and specialists online.
It comprises all the different ways you can connect to your doctor online—emails, instant messaging, phone calls, or video calls.
Its roots stem from the 19th century when people used telegrams and radio broadcasts and made phone calls to doctors during wars and challenging times.
The widespread prevalence of the internet and technological advancements have allowed us to share high-quality images and videos, making remote practices like telemedicine very convenient.
Telemedicine has proven to be very useful for patients who need follow-up visits and routine checkups. Patients who suffer from chronic ailments and need specialist checkups prefer to use this method.
How Does It Work?
Some doctors may use portals or apps for their patients. You can check with your healthcare provider if your general practitioner or specialist is available on such platforms.
Create a username for telemedicine apps, set up a profile, and add your medical history. By doing this, you can find different doctors and specialists to address your concerns.
Some doctors even allow telephonic consultations or video calls to have virtual appointments. This can happen without a portal or app as well—simply set an appointment to call your doctor.
Telemedicine Vs. Telehealth
Telehealth encompasses a broader range of technologies targeted toward improving the healthcare system as a whole, besides providing care for patients. It includes services like doctor and medical staff training, administrative meetings, and medical awareness and education programs.
Telehealth refers to non-clinical services, whereas telemedicine is geared towards clinical consultations and diagnosis.
Advantages of Telemedicine
Now that we know what telemedicine is, we can discuss why it’s so beneficial in society today. In the wake of the pandemic, the need for virtual spaces for clinical consultations has increased.
Here are some advantages of telemedicine.
Ease and Convenience
You can conveniently set up an appointment with a doctor from the comfort of your home. When we’re ill, the thought of sitting in a germ-filled waiting room is very unpleasant.
You save energy, time, and resources and probably feel better resting as you get help from a medical professional remotely.
If you work a day job, you’d know that it's almost impossible to go to a clinic during visiting hours. With telemedicine, you can get a consultation as you take your 10-minute break between work.
If you’re mentally or physically disabled, or without a carer, this is a fantastic way to seek help.
Support From Family
If you need someone to accompany you to the doctor, it can be tough to align your schedules. With an online consultation — you can phone in your family members, friends or partner to be present.
This can help them learn about your condition and understand treatment plans better, as they hear it right from the professional. You can also connect with family members in other countries who can listen in and provide support.
Many rural communities don’t have the privilege of being close to hospitals or healthcare centers. People living in the outskirts or rural areas and villages can access top-quality healthcare, so long as they have a device.
This improves the standard of living for everyone.
Chronic Patient Care
If you suffer from a chronic disease, ailment, or injury — you don’t need to go through the trouble of making monthly or weekly visits to your doctor. Telemedicine greatly reduces the harrowing waiting time, packed waiting rooms, and general discomfort of healthcare.
Simply set up virtual appointments with your usual doctor to update them about your reports, health status, and routine blood work.
Mental Health Care
Thanks to telemedicine, therapy and counseling for mental health patients are now incredibly accessible. Some people prefer virtual counseling sessions to meeting their psychologists in person.
Many individuals with anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, phobias, or bipolar disorder find it difficult to leave their homes or safe spaces. Being able to have a session online liberates them from this fear and gets them help at the right time.
In some cases, a diagnosis can be more accurate when a healthcare practitioner can see your home environment. This helps them understand you better.
ENT specialists can identify allergens in your environment, and physical therapists can guide you to do exercises on video calls instead of making weekly visits.
Telemedicine or 911?
It’s important to distinguish between a health condition, injury or ailment that a virtual appointment can resolve and an emergency situation. If you or someone you know are gravely injured, have collapsed, or become unresponsive, call 911.
Telemedicine is only to be used as a substitute for visiting a clinic, general practitioner, or specialist. It is not a replacement for going to the emergency room.
Though there may still be occasions when you need to see your doctor in person, thanks to telemedicine, you don't have to do it all the time.
Telemedicine has established itself in today's fast-paced world. The importance of easily accessible healthcare has never been more apparent. Telemedicine allows patients to discover the best doctors and receive high-quality diagnoses and treatments without compromising their time or personal safety.