Connecting Patients and Physicians
From a radiologist in Minnesota reviewing X-rays of a patient in New York to a patient consulting with a specialist over a real-time video call, or a homebound patient being monitored remotely, telemedicine enables healthcare services to be performed anywhere, at any time. In addition, it can also help medical professionals continue their education and offer patients access to online support groups.
Telemedicine does require a robust health IT infrastructure. The radiologist reviewing X-rays must be authenticated and connected to a secure network, and data gathered from monitoring the homebound patient remotely must be incorporated into the patient's electronic health record and stored securely.
Whether in a city or a rural location, it can be a challenge for patients to connect with the most appropriate medical care, particularly if they require specialty services or have a chronic illness.
Telemedicine and videoconferencing solutions include voice, high definition video, and immersive telepresence that transfer high resolution images, sounds, live video, and patient records from one location to another, making it much easier to share and view vital health information.
These systems support remote primary care and diagnosis, consultation, and other healthcare specialty services. Ultimately telemedicine enables patients to receive the best care possible regardless of their location.
In some cases, today's telemedicine solutions support better collaboration and consultation than face-to-face medical visits. Patients can see images and listen to sounds from a variety of diagnostic devices, actively participating with clinicians.
Connected medical devices at the point of care may include a camera for external observation, ear-nose-throat camera, digital stethoscope, and a device to capture blood pressure, temperature, pulse rate, and blood oxygen levels.
Monitoring patients with chronic diseases in their homes using devices that collect data about blood sugar levels, blood pressure, or other vital signs can reduce health care costs. A blood glucose or blood pressure monitor uploads data to clinical data analytics system.
Remote caregivers review the data, alert the patient when something is amiss, and adjust medications, preventing a trip to the hospital. Home health providers can send nurses when needed and not on a schedule that may miss critical medical events.
Remote medical devices must be easy to use, require large investments to develop and support, and need FDA approval. However, remote patient monitoring has great potential to help patients stay out of the emergency room.
Web conferencing complements audio conferences with application and desktop sharing, file transfer, virtual whiteboard, instant messaging, and EHR integration.
Healthcare staff can host meetings to annotate, discuss, and distribute medical files for real-time collaboration. Secure encryption technology protects the privacy of patient data in distance communications.
Other uses for telemedicine include medical history review, psychiatric evaluations, ophthalmology assessments, and any activities that do not require direct physical contact. Psychiatric evaluations can sometimes be more effective with the use of telemedicine, since the evaluation is less intimidating.
Inadequate Internet and IT infrastructure and red tape have slowed adoption of telemedicine in the US. However, some healthcare providers are already successfully using telemedicine to give rural medical centers access to clinical services such as dermatology and radiology, and to address a shortage of specialists.
Healthcare broadband expansion and development of remote patient monitoring technology are stated priorities in US government initiatives. Meanwhile, healthcare organizations can strengthen their own IT infrastructure to support broadband, video conferencing, and EHRs across their healthcare provider networks.
For example, unified communications can create or expand a facility's telemedicine services with physician-to-physician videoconferencing and clinician-to-patient conferences over secure high-speed IP networks.
Providers who wish to put telemedicine services in place may face red tape, including state telemedicine licensure laws, the credentialing process, and reimbursement issues. However, once regulatory issues are resolved, telemedicine services can improve healthcare accessibility and lower the costs of care.
To learn more, complete our Information Request Form or contact an
Account Executive at 1-800-369-1047.