Advances in telemedicine : technologies, enabling factors and scenarios

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Today the telemedicine field is changing faster than ever before. As technology advances at exponential levels, so does the widespread affordability and accessibility to basic telemedicine tools. For example, not only do we now have the technology for live video telemedicine, but much of the U. Telemedicine was originally created as a way to treat patients who were located in remote places, far away from local health facilities or in areas of with shortages of medical professionals.

This expectation for more convenient care, combined with the unavailability of many overburdened medical professionals especially primary care providers have led to the rise of telemedicine companies. Others offer hospitals and larger health centers access to extra clinical staff and specialists, for outsourcing of special cases common model among teleradiology companies.

Also impacting the rise of telemedicine today is the growing mobile health field. With the wide variety of mobile health apps and new mobile medical devices that are consumer-friendly, patients are starting to use technology to monitor and track their health. And again, as more patients get proactive about using technology to manage their health, they also will be more open to alternative ways to get care — through telemedicine! However, if you want to get technical, telemedicine is really a subset of telehealth. Whereas telehealth is a broad term that includes all health services provided using telecommunications technology, telemedicine refers specifically to clinical services.

Telehealth may involve more general health services, like public health services, whereas telemedicine is a specific kind of telehealth that involves a clinician providing some kind of medical services. As the field of telehealth continues to expand and change, these terms are likely to change and encompass even more health services. In most cases, telemedicine is a net benefit. It expands access to quality patient care, especially to regions and underserved populations that need it the most. It has the potential to change the healthcare delivery model for the better. More accessible, convenient healthcare for patients is the driving force behind the telemedicine field.

Telemedicine was originally developed in the U. Telemedicine has the power not only to break down typical geographical barriers to care access, but to make the entire healthcare delivery model more convenient to patients.

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The U. Telemedicine has the power to cut our healthcare spending by reducing problems like medication non-adherence and unnecessary ER visits, and making typical doctor visits more efficient.

How Telemedicine is Making Care Convenient

With telemedicine, a medical practice or hospital system can immediately expand access to niche medical specialists. This makes it easy for primary care doctors to consult medical specialists on a patient case, and for patients to see a needed specialist on a rare form of cancer, no matter their location.

As another example, small hospitals without adequate radiology specialist on-staff can outsource evaluation of x-rays via telemedicine. Telemedicine engages patients by allowing them to connect with their doctor more frequently, in a convenient way.


That means more questions asked and answered, a stronger doctor-patient relationship, and patients who feel empowered to manage their care. Telemedicine makes it easier for providers to follow-up with patients and make sure everything is going well. For a longer list of the benefits of telemedicine, see Why Telemedicine. Like most technology solutions, telemedicine platforms usually require some training and equipment purchases.

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How much is really dependent on the solution — a more extensive inpatient telemedicine platform that will be used between primary doctors and consulting specialist may require more training and the purchase of a telemedicine cart and various mobile health devices. A secure videochat app like eVisit, requires much less staff training and usually only requires purchase of a webcam.

The best way to navigate reimbursement is to call up your top payers and ask their policies. This fee is direct from the patient and is on top of or in place of any reimbursement through a payer.

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Telemedicine is used in many different medical fields, throughout ambulatory and hospital settings. Almost every medical field has some use for consulting a patient or another provider usually a specialist remotely. Because of shortages of care, limited access to specialists in some areas, and remote locations of patients especially in rural or sparsely populated areas , telemedicine is incredibly useful to any healthcare provider trying to expand access to quality patient care.

Some medical specialties were early adopters of telemedicine and have pushed development of solutions specifically for their specialty. As a result, there are several key niche telemedicine specialties.

Nurses Advancing Telehealth Services in the Era of Healthcare Reform

Here are some of the most popular telemedicine solutions specialties:. Telemedicine can be used for a wide variety of health services. Telemedicine services can range widely by specialty. A surgeon might use telemedicine to do post-operation check-ins with patients, to make sure their wound is not infected.

A gynecologist might use a live telemedicine solution to provide birth control counseling. An endocrinologist may do live videochats with patients to discuss recent lab results and answer questions. The list goes on. So by now you know what telemedicine is. What kinds of technology allows digital connections between a provider at a large hospital and a patient in a remote, rural home? With the expansion of the internet, much of how telemedicine is delivered has changed. Here are a few examples of telemedicine connections. Networked connections like high speed internet lines are typically used to link remote health clinics to larger health facilities like metropolitan hospitals.

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According to the ATA, there are about networked telemedicine programs in the U. Point-to-point connections link small remote health centers to one, large, central health facility via high speed internet. This type of telemedicine connection lets smaller or understaffed clinics outsource medical care to specialists at other locations within the same health system. Point-to-point connections are especially common for telepsychiatry, teleradiology, and urgent care services.

Monitoring center links are used for one type of telemedicine — remote patient monitoring.


These links usually take the form of internet, SMS, or telephone connections. The most popular image is probably a doctor consulting a patient via a videochat platform. Two-way video conferencing is quickly becoming a popular virtual alternative to in-person doctor visits. A telemedicine definition encompasses a much broader range of healthcare services than just real-time medical consultations over video.


Telemedicine includes any clinical services provided via telecommunications technology. Sometimes called asynchronous telemedicine, store-and-forward solutions enable healthcare providers to forward and share patient medical data lab results, images, videos, records with a provider at a different location. These platforms offer a kind of sophisticated, secure, email platform — a way to share private patient data online in a secure way.

As a parallel, think about a telephone call versus an email exchange. A telephone call synchronous requires all parties to be communicating in real-time — an email exchange does not. Store-and-forward telemedicine works best for interprofessional medical services — where a provider needs to outsource diagnosis to a specialist. For instance, teleradiology relies heavily on store-and-forward technology to allow technicians and healthcare professionals at smaller hospitals to share patient x-rays for diagnosis by a specialist at another location.

Asynchronous telemedicine is also commonly used for teledermatology and teleophthalmology. It also facilitates faster diagnosis, especially for patients located in underserved settings that may not have the necessary specialist on staff. Overall, this adds up to lower patient wait times, more accessible healthcare, better patient outcomes, and a more optimized schedule for physicians.

This makes it easy to watch for warning signs and quickly intervene in patients who are at health-risk or are recovering from a recent surgery, for example. This type of telemedicine is sometimes also called telemonitoring or home telehealth. RPM telemedicine is quickly rising in popularity as more health professionals realize its potential effects on chronic care management. For instance, a patient with diabetes who has a glucose tracker in their home can measure their glucose levels at regular intervals and transmit them to their doctor.

If all is well, those results are simply recorded. If something looks off, the physician may flag it and call in the patient for a consult. Like most telemedicine tools, remote patient monitoring solutions make it easier for patients and physicians to maintain close communication. In some cases, this medical data is transmitted to a team of health monitoring professionals who are responsible for flagging any warning signs and sending them on to the physician, if needed.

With the recent growth of wearables and mobile medical devices, this is getting easier. Patients have better, cheaper, more accessible tools at their disposal for tracking their health signs and reporting medical data. Think videochat. The popularity of real-time telemedicine solutions has increased rapidly in the past few years, as companies like Teladoc and DoctoronDemand have offered an affordable, easy way for patients to connect with a doctor from anywhere and get immediate treatment.

Doctors are also starting to adopt real-time telemedicine solutions to give their patients the added convenience of virtual doctor visits, improve their care outcomes, boost work-life balance, and reap the many other benefits.