Telemedicine is defined as the use of advanced communication technologies, within the context of clinical health, that deliver care across considerable physical distance. (NIH)
Yes. Telemedicine is guided by the latest in healthcare technology and highest standards in medical care. Not only is it safe, telemedicine is a cost-effective means of providing and receiving health care. The American Telemedicine Association has produced a series of standards, guidelines and best practices for healthcare providers to guide them in developing their practices.
A patient at a health care facility, or even at their home, can have a telehealth encounter with a specialty care provider who is located at a distant site through a video conference. Cameras and other monitoring tools allow the specialist to see on screen exactly what the patient is experiencing. For example, during an examination, the specialist is able to record information in real time. Aside from the technology, sessions are treated like an in-person appointment.
. Access to telemedicine services is rapidly expanding across the country. If you’re interested, call your provider and ask whether they offer telehealth services. Many hospital systems, independent specialists and specialist groups now offer telehealth services. This grants patients the comfort to choose where and when they would like access to appointments with their specialists. Additionally, telemedicine offers urgent care options through a patient’s home computer or even a tablet or smart phone.
Telemedicine is designed for one purpose: to bring primary and specialty health care services to everyone, including patients in remote areas and underserved populations where such care might not be readily available. With telemedicine, timely services, urgent care, and follow-up care can be done at the patient’s convenience. In addition, telemedicine can save you and your family travel expenses, lost time from work and the costs of getting to care centers miles from your home.
Telemedicine will not prevent patients from visiting their doctors and specialists. While technology will continue to enhance the delivery of healthcare as we know it today, it will never eliminate your personal relationship with your doctor and specialist. Just as e-mail changed the way we communicate, telemedicine is changing our definition of the traditional office visit. The results will lead to improved access to care, lower cost of delivery, and, ultimately, improved patient outcomes.