A Detailed Introduction to Telemedicine

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.


Introduction

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.