Telemedicine Stands To Benefit People Who Can't Otherwise Access Care

What is telemedicine and its greatest successes? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. Answer by University of Texas School of Biomedical Informatics, Educating leaders in health informatics since 1997, on Quora:

Telemedicine is the use of information technology (IT), especially two-way interactive audio/video communications and computers, to deliver health services to remote patients. This process enables information exchange between primary care physicians and specialists who are at a distance. In recent years, with the development of IT infrastructure, more telehealth solutions are being implemented. In modern healthcare systems across the world, advantages of telemedicine can be categorized within three distinct areas; to promote remote diagnosis, remote monitoring, and generating medical awareness. The widespread use of telemedicine and telemedicine solutions has created a demand for skilled personnel with applicable knowledge and understanding of technologies used and supported.

Some of the major successes telemedicine has brought to the modern health care are as follows:

  • Remote diagnosis

Many countries across the world have used telemedicine to screen rural populations for multiple disease conditions like diabetic retinopathy, prenatal detection of congenital heart disease, dementia, cancer, psychiatric disorders and trauma. Literature has shown telemedicine solutions are an effective tool for successfully providing quality care to populations that is comparable to a face-to-face consultation in the doctor’s office.

  • Remote monitoring

It’s a known fact that laboratory and radiology tests are imperative to making a diagnosis for a patient. Tele-monitoring solutions like tele-radiology and tele-ophthalmology have eliminated the need for patients to travel long distances to undergo tests. Home-based monitoring systems have even improved rehabilitation care thereby minimizing the hospital stays for patients (again a major cost reduction).

  • Education/Awareness

Care providers in rural areas lack the skill, time, and process for carrying out counseling sessions. Through tele-counseling programs for multiple conditions like depression, HIV, and smoking, skilled professionals can give counseling sessions to patients in their homes.

Numerous studies conducted across the world have proven that telemedicine solutions are easy to access and appropriate for bringing quality care to distinct areas. Cost effective studies performed by researchers on available telemedicine solutions sum it up by noting that the use of telemedicine has also evolved to include patients in their care process at a lower cost within their own environment. Until now, telemedicine solutions have worked with the concept of store and forward; where information is collected, stored and then forwarded to specialists. Now telemedicine has evolved into real-time monitoring with the use of sensors and trackers coupled with mobile telephones.

Finally, via the use of telemedicine solutions, patients and users can receive quality care from appropriate specialists in close proximity to their homes.