Telemedicine Solutions is transforming modern healthcare. People can access quality healthcare from the comfort of their homes for the first time.
In this blog, we will explore the different types of Telemedicine. We will also understand its technology and its benefits.
Today, technology is assisting us in overcoming some significant challenges. Telemedicine solutions are not a new concept. But, combined with digital capabilities, it can be a game-changer. It can bring down healthcare costs and improve its accessibility.
What exactly is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine, as a concept, was first introduced in the early 1940s. In 1945, Dr. William Halsted used teletherapy to treat cancer patients. These patients could not travel to the therapy center. It was one of the first successful use of telemedicine.
The invention of the Radio was a catalyst for the large-scale use of telemedicine. Doctors used these radios during the war to communicate with frontline caregivers. “Telemedicine refers to the use of telecommunication tools to provide medical services. It can be in the form of a website, an app, or a sensing device.”
It also stores information about patients’ medical conditions. Health experts and patients can later access the information from anywhere. Since then, different types of telemedicine technology have evolved.
Types of Telemedicine Services Today
Today, Telemedicine has become synonymous with virtual doctor visits. However, it is much more than just another virtual meeting app. There are different types of telemedicine apps. Some telemedicine apps are designed simply for online appointments and visits.
Others have more medical domain-specific features. They are customizable depending on the provider’s expertise and needs. There are also telemedicine apps that cater mainly to clinics, hospitals, and labs.
So, telemedicine types have multiplied in recent years. They are now used in medical training, research, and education.
However, for this blog, we shall keep the categorization to two. These include asynchronous (store-and-forward) services and real-time video services.
Both types of Telemedicine improve healthcare care access and have their specific benefits. They vary, nonetheless, in cost and quality of care.
Asynchronous Services (Store and forward Telemedicine)
Asynchronous services do not offer video consulting services. Patients can only share their medical histories, diagnosis reports, etc. This back-and-forth communication model is sometimes referred to as store and forward telemedicine.
- How does store-and-forward telehealth work?
In store-and-forward telehealth, data shared by patients is stored at a central location. From there, data is shared with authorized doctors, hospitals, etc.
The doctor/expert will have access to the shared files. The doctor will suggest treatments or write medication prescriptions based on those records. This may also include in-person visits for more detailed diagnoses.
- Store-and-forward Benefits
Store-and-forward telemedical technology provides several advantages for providers and patients. These include:
- Reduces clinic/hospital operating costs.
- Enables remote patients to access quality healthcare.
- Reduces wait times for appointments.
- Increases accessibility to care for underserved populations.
- Reduces administrative burden on Doctors, nurses, and support staff.
Real-Time Video Services
Real-time video services help patients meet with doctors online. Patients can use computers or mobile devices. Patients can talk to a physician or watch a video of the physician talking to them. The doctor will converse with the patient in certain instances as they watch the video. The doctor’s assistants may also communicate with the patient if necessary.
Here are several examples of real-time telemedicine applications.
- Mobile Health Telemedicine
Uses mobile devices to provide medical care in remote locations. Providers can access details about a patient’s condition on their phones. They can also exchange information with a team of experts or a qualified specialist.
- Web-Based Telemedicine
Patients share access records of their symptoms on a web portal. Providers share treatment recommendations on the same portal. These type of telemedicine solutions only requires good internet connectivity.
- Remote Healthcare
This is the most popular type of telemedicine service. It is designed for patients located at a distance. Consultation may involve real-time interaction, or it may be only through electronic messages.
- Telehealth Monitoring
Provides real-time patient health data to providers. It helps to measure and track patient health in real-time. Today, remote patient monitoring telehealth is very popular in neuropsychology, nursing, and rehabilitation.
The Tech Behind Telemedicine
Let’s now discuss the technology that makes the different types of telemedicine work.
- Video Calling
Video calling is the transfer of video over a network connection. This technology enables doctors to see patients face-to-face. Doctors can easily connect with remote patients. They can discuss symptoms, treatment plans, and reports virtually.
- Remote Patient Monitoring Devices
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices help doctors monitor their patient’s vitals 24*7. This includes measuring heart rate, temperature, and blood oxygen levels. RPM or telemedical devices send alerts to emergency services if any of these values go out of range.
- Mobile Apps
Apps can send text messages, emails, and even phone calls to hospitals. This allows doctors to contact nurses and other staff members directly. It also lets them update records and track patient progress.
- Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is the storage and processing of data online. It is secure and easy to access. Doctors can store patient files, images, and other data types online. Data is accessible to authorized people anywhere, anytime.
- Machine Learning
Machine Learning(ML) software mimics human thought processes to perform routine, repetitive tasks. Using ML capabilities, telemedicine software can handle routine tasks. AI bots, for instance, can assist patients in finding the correct information. With AI help, people can learn in detail about a particular disease. Additionally, it can help patients select insurance coverage and simplify appointment scheduling.
- Wearable Technology
Wearable technology refers to wearable items that connect to smartphones or computers. These devices collected data about our vital health indicators. It can detect changes in our body chemistry and alert us to potential problems. Wearables can measure physical activity, sleep patterns, and food intake.
Telemedicine is very effective in rural hospitals and clinics. These areas lack access to specialized care. Telemedicine service is beneficial for low-income populations as well. It provides them with easy, cost-effective access to quality healthcare.
Telemedicine has many benefits for patients and doctors, including :
- Reduced travel time and costs,
- Increased convenience,
- Higher quality care,
- Improved access to specialists,
- And Lower risk of infection.
Telemedicine provides high-quality care to underserved communities and rural areas. Telemedicine is becoming popular among people who live in remote locations. Also, it is an excellent alternative for those who work long hours away from home.
Can Telemedicine Replace In-Person Visits?
A one-word answer would be “NO.”
Telemedicine services decrease the wait time for appointments. They aid patients in receiving care from a remote location. But they cannot replace in-person visits. Telemedicine services are ideal for routine exams. Yet, face-to-face visits are still necessary for a precise disease diagnosis. It’s best if both work in tandem. When used wisely, it can improve the patient experience and outcome.
We are sure now you have a good idea about the types of telemedicine services. If you have any queries, we are always happy to help.
Talk to one of our health-tech experts today. As a leading healthcare software partner, we provide custom telehealth solutions for doctors, clinics, and hospitals. Our solution is 100% HIPAA compliant.
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