What is Telemedicine?

The Role Of Telemedicine

Telemedicine can be used when healthcare professionals and patients are unable to meet face to face due to geographical distances, convenience or practicality. It can also helps identify a number of functions that can be provided for healthcare systems such as:

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Courtesy of CNBC – May 17, 2020

There is scope for Telemedicine to improve healthcare outcomes, in terms of reducing secondary complications, enhancing communication, and centralising data sources to allow information sharing. It has also be argued that Telemedicine can contribute to improving equity in accessing care by enhancing communication between healthcare professionals.

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Benefits of Telemedicine

Telemedicine can be used to monitor patients’ health from a distance, offer advice and manage healthcare needs effectively. The feasibility of this technology was evaluated by participating specialists (medical staff, nurses, psychologists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists), who tested productivity gains, use of hospital services and user satisfaction.

The findings suggested that this was an adequate means of service delivery in up to 99% of cases, in that follow-up intervals were reduced, follow-up care via teleconferencing was cheaper than face-to-face outreach or clinic activities and, importantly, patients accepted this as a valid form of continuity with healthcare professionals. A 9% reduction in A&E visits and 11% fewer admissions to acute hospital wards demonstrates more tangible economic savings.

Telemedicine vs Telehealth

The term Telehealth includes a broad range of technologies and services to provide patient care and improve the healthcare delivery system as a whole.

Telehealth is different from Telemedicine because it refers to a broader scope of remote healthcare services. While Telemedicine refers specifically to remote clinical services, Telehealth can refer to remote non-clinical services, such as provider training, administrative meetings, and continuing medical education, in addition to clinical services. According to the World Health Organization, Telehealth includes, “Surveillance, health promotion and public health functions.”

Telehealth is a subset of E-Health, which includes the delivery of health information, for health professionals and health consumers, education and training of health workers and health systems management through the internet and telecommunications.

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Other benefits include educational opportunities for healthcare professionals. Similar considerations of ease of access, travel constraints and costs, applicable to patient care, also apply here.