June 1, 2022 | Segment #2
Mountaineer News | The Editors
Wellness Wednesday's - Telemedicine
BUCKHANNON, WV - Telemedicine is the current trending source of providing healthcare services to remote locations. Despite busy schedules, lack of accessibility, and low availability of healthcare, anyone can get high-quality healthcare services through the telemedicine platform.
This article contains a detailed introduction to telemedicine for understanding its various aspects and the countless benefits of utilizing it.
1. What is Telemedicine?
Over the past three decades, researchers, clinicians, and health experts have laid a great emphasis on the integration of telecommunications and advancing technology for the betterment of healthcare facilities. Telemedicine is a successful innovation of the modern era by using information technology.
Telemedicine is an umbrella term encompassing many technologies and applications that are currently being used to promote public research and the advancement of medical services and facilities.
Telemedicine's definition often gets confused with telehealth, as both the terms are often used interchangeably, but telemedicine is different from telehealth.
Telemedicine definition and background
Telemedicine can be defined as communication and information technologies to provide standard health care to distant participants.
However, this term is not new; the background of telemedicine comes from the early 20th century. Around the 1960s, telephones were being used by healthcare professionals to guide and give health advice to patients.
With the advancement of telecommunications, telemedicine also adapted new technologies, devices, and methods. It is also sometimes referred to as ‘digital practice’ in the current era.
Today the spectrum of telemedicine is vast, including video conferencing, audio calls and various other data transmission technologies.
There has been a rapid hike in the telemedicine stocks price in recent years. The Covid-19 pandemic propagated telemedicine to new heights. As a result, a large population of the United States is shifting to virtual telemedicine services replacing health care visits.
What are the telemedicine regulations by the state?
The United States of America does not provide a standardized license that could work for the health professionals throughout the country hence why each state has its regulations and licensure processes for telemedicine. Therefore, a physician can only get a permit for practice issued for that particular state.
Telemedicine regulations by the state were established back in 2014 when the Federation of State Medical Boards passed the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact to help facilitate medical practitioners with their interstate practice. A physician can apply for a medical license to practice telemedicine in their home state for practicing in another state. The verification from the home state is a big go-ahead.
However, the telemedicine regulation by the state has been significantly eased in the CoronaVirus pandemic. Currently, many conditions permit emergency licenses to physicians licensed in other states who may assist with this health emergency.
Are telemedicine and e-health similar?
E-health is an umbrella term representing the entire health industry and is considered equivalent to e-commerce involving telematics and medical informatics, whereas, telemedicine is just a market niche.
E-health is broader and more directed towards the business side, while telemedicine provides healthcare facilities to distant participants. Telemedicine and e-health are sometimes used interchangeably, but both terms represent different meanings and goals.
2. What are the three types of telemedicine?
The introduction of telemedicine in the health industry has positively influenced healthcare quality, reliability and availability for people living in distant locations. In general, telemedicine is categorized into three types further associated with sub-types.
The three main types of telemedicine are as follows:
Store-And-Forward: In this type of telemedicine, the patient does not have to meet the practitioner; instead, all the medical documents such as medical reports, images, lab data, etc. can be transferred to the specialist.
Remote Monitoring: Other names for remote monitoring are ‘self-monitoring’ and ‘ self-testing. In this type of telemedicine, different technological devices are used to monitor the patient's health status and clinical signs.
Real-Time Interactive Service: This type of telemedicine is an interactive service that provides immediate advice and medical attention to patients.
There are many subtypes of real-time interactive services, such as telenursing, telepharmacy and telerehabilitation.
Telenursing refers to the promotion of nursing services through telecommunication technology.
Telepharmacy gives patients pharmaceutical advice through digital channels such as online appointments through websites, live chats, and apps when getting in contact with pharmacists is impossible.
Similarly, telerehabilitation refers to providing rehabilitation consultation and advice through online communication channels.
The introduction of telemedicine to the health industry has turned out to be a successful step in enhancing the accessibility of healthcare services to people who have a limited approach to direct healthcare visits and facilities.
3. How Telemedicine can help people?
The idea of telemedicine is to overcome the barriers associated with healthcare delivery and develop equity and welfare for everyone to receive necessary healthcare resources and intervention.
The background of telemedicine and the current data suggests that telemedicine has been convenient both from the patient and health profes’[sional’s aspect,
a) How telemedicine is used by healthcare professionals
Healthcare professionals are using telemedicine for various clinical and non-clinical purposes.
b) Clinical uses of telemedicine by healthcare professionals
The clinical uses of telemedicine by healthcare professionals are as follows;
The professionals extensively use telemedicine for the evaluation, urgent care, and management of patients who might need transfers, decisions, and quick responses.
Healthcare professionals who cannot reach their patients use telemedicine for supervision and providing primary care and can also give prescriptions. For example, mental health experts can prescribe ADHD telemedicine Adderall to people dealing with ADHD through online consultations.
Health care professionals are actively using telemedicine to promote good health and wellness. For example, people struggling with obesity can contact a telemedicine doctor for a phentermine prescription or advice.
Professionals use telemedicine to track the provisions of treatment, symptoms, and progress of their patients over time.
Healthcare professionals widely conduct the follow-up care and supervision of patients with chronic health ailments and their regular status tracking.
Telemedicine appointment is very easily delivered to the patients hence why healthcare professionals can carry their sessions with their patients more frequently and stay updated with their progress.
Telemedicine urgent care for patients with immediate care or emergency care is being used by professionals and specialists who are not available at the moment.
Telemedicine is not just limited to treating humans; vet telemedicine has also advanced in the past year, offering many healthcare services to pets.
Non-Clinical uses of telemedicine by healthcare professionals
The non-clinical uses of telemedicine by healthcare professionals are as follows:
Telemedicine is a significant source of education for distant patients and is considered one of the most excellent tools for patient education.
Nowadays, health professionals use telemedicine to supervise, research, and expand healthcare networks.
Telemedicine is an intelligent way to manage patient databases, records, listings, and overall monetizing of the healthcare system.
Telemedicine benefits are far beyond the efficiency and convenience of professionals. In actuality, telemedicine benefits are fully enjoyed by the patients;
b) How telemedicine helps patients
The telemedicine benefits for patients are as follows:
Telemedicine has made healthcare possible for patients in remote locations.
Patients find telemedicine very accessible and more effortless than clinical visits without facing the struggles of the time, traveling, and long waiting room hours.
Patients that are either bedridden or disabled and traveling to their therapist becomes tantalizing. Telemedicine is the perfect solution for patients who have mobility restrictions or are ill to travel.
Telemedicine increases the autonomy of self-management and online self-monitoring.
Scheduling therapy online via telemedicine is extremely convenient. Patients can schedule their online sessions according to their ease.
Telemedicine gives every resident an equal opportunity to utilize public resources despite societal, financial, and mobility barriers.
Patients do not have to rely entirely on the medical system. Instead, telemedicine benefits for patients help secure privacy and self-esteem for patients who are less confident in getting into the process of medical check-ups, especially for patients with mental health issues.
Digital connection of patients with their therapists through telemedicine has shown increased encouragement in patients to get help for their mental health issues from their homes.
Post-surgical patients and those requiring rehabilitation have better health outcomes while receiving their treatment plan at home via telemedicine. The home environment seems to positively impact the patient’s minds compared to the hospital environment.
Online doctor visits and telecommunication for health care services are becoming more and more popular for many other reasons. Telemedicine benefits are not just limited to accessibility and ease. The most critical question regarding telemedicine is;
Is telemedicine covered by insurance?
Insurance coverage of telemedicine is one of the biggest concerns for patients regarding billings and copays. The great thing about telemedicine is that many insurance companies cover telemedicine, including Medicare.
4. How to implement telemedicine in your healthcare organization?
The American telemedicine association was established in 1993 as a non-profit organization with a clear vision of promoting health benefits; today, many health care organizations are using telemedicine for various health benefits throughout the United States of America.
Various healthcare organizations are using telemedicine; here is a list of top U.S healthcare organizations successfully using telemedicine in their business;
Telemedicine for the treatment of chronic medical issues
Telemedicine urgent care services are used by many health care organizations such as ‘Sesame Care,’ which offers healthcare services via telemedicine regarding chronic health issues including; skin, dental, mental health, diabetes, and sleep care. You can even book a same-day telemedicine appointment, and the prices are affordable.
‘PlushCare’ is another healthcare organization offering same-day telemedicine appointments for various health issues. The organization is even offering refills on common prescriptions, excluding controlled substances. You can get a monthly membership which also has coverage for health insurance.
Telemedicine for the treatment of mental health issues
‘Medvidi’ is one of America’s leading telemedicine providers in the area of mental health issues. Medvidi has successfully utilized this user-friendly technology to increase access to high-quality mental healthcare services to individuals suffering from mental health issues, including; ADHD, anxiety, and depression. Other areas of Medvidi telehealth services include:
Weight loss management
Panic attacks and phobias
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Medvidi telemedicine services reduce the cost and availability of mental health experts for patients. It offers the following best-quality telemedicine mental health services:
Effective treatment plans
Mental health therapies
Prescription drugs and refills
Lifestyle modifications advice
Medvidi is embedded to provide a seamless patient experience through virtual engagements making it a top-rated client service telemedicine platform.
Telemedicine for the treatment of nonemergency medical issues and pediatrics
‘Teladoc’ is one of the first telemedicine providers in America. The company provides various services such as:
Nonemergency medical conditions
Pediatric medical services
Sexual health consultations
Mental health consultations
Teladoc also gives you many other services, including providing prescriptions, insurance coverage, and analyzing lab reports.
Telemedicine for lab test analysis and prescription
As discussed above, health organizations such as ‘Teladoc’ offer patients services such as prescriptions and lab test analysis. In addition, various other health organizations in the United States offer lab test analysis and medications to patients via telemedicine technologies.
One of the most significant examples of the organization using a telemedicine platform to deliver health services is ‘MeMD.’ The process of getting telemedicine services is simple. You just have to create your account on the MeMD website, and once your account gets activated, you can talk to any nurse or doctor practitioner. MeMD also offers telemedicine urgent care services to patients.
Telemedicine for consultations and counseling
Health care organizations such as ‘iCliniq’ use telemedicine to provide consultation services across the country. You can either post a question, have a phone consultation, or you can even go for an online video option.
Telemedicine for general care through a mobile app
The famous company ‘Amwell,’ founded by two brothers who are doctors by profession, is offering its telemedicine service for general health care management through its mobile application. The application is compatible with both iPhone and Android.
Vet telemedicine services
There are numerous health care organizations for animals offering vet telemedicine services, including:
All these vet telemedicine organizations offer various urgent care, emergency, general care, consultation, and prescription facilities in the United States.
How can you implement telemedicine in your healthcare organization?
The future of telemedicine is even brighter than today, and sooner or later, every healthcare organization will have to implement it, considering the sky-rocketing patient positive feedback trends.
There are various by which you can implement telemedicine in your healthcare organization. You have to offer multiple healthcare services digitally, and there are many platforms to do that.
Telemedicine service options can include direct calls, emails, text messages, video calls, etc., and are replacing in-person doctor visits and offer the following facilities:
Treating mental health disorders
Treating minor medical conditions
Managing emergency conditions
Offering veterinary services
You can allow insurance coverage from major providers and make sure that the telemedicine services are cost-effective for patients who don't have insurance.
5. Problems with telemedicine You must learn the limitations of telemedicine before incorporating it into your healthcare organization. The problems with telemedicine are categorized into the following areas:
The availability of many options can cause confusion and discontinuity among the patients searching for the best.
There could be a problem related to language barriers.
Some patients might not feel comfortable using a digital platform and the virtual communication model with the health professionals.
Funding and insurance-related problems
Not every health care organization and insurance provider is integrated for the coverage of healthcare services.
There is a big challenge with reimbursement.
Internet connectivity, speed, and availability remain considerable limitations of telemedicine in areas with poor internet coverage.
The knowledge and education of using different apps, software, and devices add up to the problems of telemedicine.
Patients and healthcare professionals would have to get used to virtual behavior.
Telemedicine needs to be delivered strictly following the evidence-based approach.
The healthcare worker would have to strictly apply clinical reasoning to fulfill the codes of conduct.
The constant check on the outcomes, patients' progress, and prognosis get very complicated. Any gap in data can have a negative impact on the quality of health service delivered.
Telemedicine is a great way to provide adequate and most cost-effective health services to patients with equitable resources and availability.
Despite the problems associated with using telemedicine for the delivery of healthcare services, every healthcare provider in the United States of America finds the introduction of telemedicine to their company turning out to be highly successful and convenient in providing high-quality healthcare to patients.