AcuteCare Telemedicine Blog


You May Already Be Acquainted

As futuristic or experimental as telemedicine may sometimes seem, patients from all demographics may unknowingly already have been engaging and reaping its benefits for years. At its core, telemedicine is interested in utilizing advances in technology to increase the speed and accuracy of communications either between patients and their physicians or among physicians in collaboration. The resulting drastic improvements in these areas that are afforded by telemedicine are what matter most, not the seemingly unorthodox techniques that facilitate them.

Following this idea, any health care protocol that leverages the internet is a practical application of telemedicine. Therefore, when a doctor retrieves lab work from the web, or a radiologist sends an electronic version of a scan to a colleague, telemedicine is already at work. For would-be telemedicine patients, videoconferencing is what is most unfamiliar. However, Americans are becoming more and more accustomed to communicating with one another via two-way video technologies; for many, platforms like Skype or Apple’s FaceTime are now commonplace. As these tools make their way into our everyday lives, more patients will grow comfortable with their powerful applications in healthcare.

According to the American Telemedicine Association, telemedicine technologies and practices has played a role in the care of as many as 10 million patients in the United States to date. With continued education and increased awareness, that number should be expected to rise exponentially as more hospitals adopt telehealth as a primary mode of monitoring patients and other individuals benefitting from remote supervision, such as the elderly or disabled. Several federal innovation grants resulting from the passage of the Affordable Care Act have also been awarded to telemedicine programs nationwide for their capability to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations.

There are obstacles, primarily related to patient and provider perceptions and fears about costs and reliance on new technologies, but telemedicine has often proved itself adaptable and efficient in the face of such doubts. Raising awareness and granting patients the confidence that they are already familiar with telemedicine’s advantages will be a major step in pushing healthcare forward.

 


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