Science and technology has really come a long way and telemedicine represents one of the innovative paths along the journey. Way back — 10 or 20 years ago — many technologies that we use today were only figments of someone’s imagination, abstract ideas that were part of some expert’s wish list. Today however, it’s a different matter entirely. Today’s technology has never been better, and in many ways, telemedicine represents one of the greatest developments of the century.
What Is Telemedicine?
A sick person goes to see a doctor for consultation. Unfortunately, the hospital where the doctor works does not have the necessary equipment to complete the tests and diagnose the patient’s condition. Or, perhaps the doctor does not have the expertise to properly treat the patient.
Telemedicine bridges the gap.
With modern communication, the doctor and the hospital can collaborate and get in touch with other hospitals and physicians in other areas who have the necessary equipment and expertise. Telemedicine, thus, allows both parties to work together to attend to the health care needs of the patient.
In a nutshell, telemedicine takes care of patients, using the latest in communication technology. It happens every day, everywhere, across the globe. Different parties across various geographical locations share medical information to assist each other in treating patients and in solving medical cases.
Different Types of Telemedicine
One of the common types of telemedicine is called specialist referral. With this type of telemedicine, doctors and medical health professionals seek additional help, assistance, and advice from other specialized health care professionals who work in larger, more modern hospitals and laboratories.
Traveling to distant hospitals and laboratories for consultation and collaboration can take copious amounts of time and rack up considerable expenses. Doctors, instead, share medical information, such as laboratory test results, patient history, and other critical information through modern communication platforms.
The term, store-and-forward process, refers to another type of telemedicine. This type of telemedicine entails taking medical data, for example bio-signals and medical images, and forwarding them to a medical or health specialist for evaluation and assessment. Generally, a medical history and video containing information is transmitted to the specialist for his or her evaluation. Physicians usually employ this type of telemedicine when physical examination isn’t feasible.
Sometimes, for one reason or another, physicians cannot personally monitor their patients or aren’t physically able to do so due to geographical distance or other concerns. Telemedicine comes into play again here, and this time for remote monitoring. Doctors monitor their patient’s progress remotely with the use of communication devices.
Experts refer to the last type of telemedicine as real-time or interactive services. A common practice using real-time interactive services occurs when doctors perform surgeries on patients under the guidance of remotely located expert surgeons, using technology such as live video conference.
Schools also use telemedicine in education. Health care professionals assigned, or situated, in far flung and remote areas get a chance to attend virtual seminars for their professional enhancement and to earn credits for advancement in their professions.
Modern Technology and Telemedicine
Telemedicine uses innovative technology and many different mediums of communication. The telephone represents the most common communication tool used in telemedicine, next comes the fax machine. Consultations occur via phone discussions and via fax machine. The doctor sends documents for evaluation and then consults return documents that contain expert opinions for resolution and recommendations.
With the advent of the Internet, video conferences make consultations between health experts from different parts of the world possible. Two or more parties exchange medical and health information electronically, regardless of the distance in between them, or the time difference. With telemedicine, everything happens in real time.
Medicine has indeed come a long way. The global community benefits from this technology that makes these new avenues for treatment possible. The future holds unimaginable potential – who knows what else is in store for humanity in terms of new medical breakthroughs?
About the Author: Guest contributor, Joffrey Drummond, is a sought after writer for AccessRx.com, specializing in health and fitness, medical technology, and online marketing. He currently resides in Phoenix, AZ, with his dog Ralph. You can connect with Joffrey via his LinkedIn profile here.
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