It can be a hassle going to the doctor. You need to schedule an appointment months in advance and then figure out a way to get there when the day arrives. If you have to cancel, there's another few months' wait. You don't even want to think about urgent care if there's an emergency, where there's a chance you'll sit for hours before you're seen.
In an ideal world, none of this would be an issue.
Telemedicine allows a doctor to diagnose and examine a patient via technology, such as a phone call, video conferencing, or email. You can talk to a physician without ever needing to leave your house as long as you have an Internet connection and a way to communicate.
Aiding Remote LocationsIf you live in a rural area, you may not have immediate access to a medical facility, whether that's a hospital or a doctor's office. It could take hours to get to one, never mind the wait time. The distance between home and a facility can be harmful, leading to a delayed diagnosis and treatment, according to Director of Telemedicine at UnitedHealthcare Don Graf in the Albuquerque Journal. With telemedicine, you can get a professional opinion minus the traveling.
There are approximately 40 specialists for every 100,000 people in rural areas compared to 134 in cities, the National Rural Health Association said in the same article. Without the same access to treatment, remote patients can face dangerous consequences. Telemedicine can help with this. Within half an hour, you can be talking to a professional about your symptoms and needs through video or audio conferencing, and after 20 minutes, receive a diagnosis.
Providing Assistance to DoctorsIf you're a general practitioner, you might not be as knowledgeable on a certain condition. With telemedicine, however, you can get a specialist's opinion without ever leaving the office. Through the use of a smartphone, tablet, or computer, you and a specialist can discuss a patient. According to the American Telemedicine Association, telemedicine aids in sharing diagnostic images, live video, and patient records with specialists, allowing these experts to arrive at an appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
Telemedicine can also help monitor a patient's vitals, said the ATA. Through the use of technology, doctors can send and receive data from a patient's home. From there the data can go to a specialist, home aide, or diagnostic testing facility. The information can be collected without any inconvenience to either party.
Reducing the Cost of Health Care U.S. companies could save up to $6 billion dollars on health care by offering telemedicine options, according to a report by Towers Watson. As of the report's date, 22 percent of businesses provided low-cost telemedicine accommodations, while 37 percent believe they'll have it up and running within the year.
"While this analysis highlights a maximum potential savings, even a significantly lower level of use could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in savings," Dr. Allan Khoury, a senior consultant at Towers Watson, said in the report.
Through the use of technology and all it has to offer, telemedicine can provide cheaper healthcare for patients everywhere.