Telemedicine might seem like a relatively recent phenomenon in health care, but in actual fact, the idea has been around since the 1950s. Back in those days, of course, digital technology didn’t exist; the only mode that existed for housebound or rural patients to access continued health care resources was the telephone, hence the name. When it was first introduced, telemedicine was regarded as a fringe service for the next few decades, albeit one with huge benefits for patients living in remote areas. However, in 2018, telemedicine is being regarded as the next progressive enhancement to sweep through the American health care system.
The reason of this is all down to digital technology. Telemedicine, though it retains the analog name, is no longer an archaic technology benefitting only a few remote patients. With the advent and continued prevalence of the smartphone, it’s becoming so much more than that, and experts forecast that the telemedicine revolution will grow exponentially in 2018 and beyond. It’s no longer just beneficial to patients who have trouble getting to their doctor, either; while it still remains that, it’s so much more simultaneously. Telemedicine is making health care cheaper and faster for everyone involved, including patients, doctors, and specialists. The former can see a medical professional on their own terms, when and where they need to, while the latter can get through more patients in a day and provide better quality care for less cost.
So which areas of health care actually use telemedicine? A better way to phrase the question might be, which areas of health care don’t use telemedicine? The prevalence of smartphones and digital technology means that many areas of the expansive network that is the American health care system can benefit from the positives of telemedicine, regardless of whether they adopted telemedicine before. Here are a few of the areas that are receiving major boosts from telemedicine.
1. Mental health
According to statistics, a quarter of adults will battle a mental disorder of some type or another during their life, yet only fifty percent of these people will seek treatment. The reason for these low figures has a lot to do with the stigma surrounding mental health, and how some people who suffer from it spend their time in denial without ever actually acknowledging their issue. Mental illness is also more prevalent in isolated areas, which makes it harder for people to seek out proper care. Another barrier is the cost of mental health treatment, which usually involves a committed treatment program that some potential patients might be scared of committing to for whatever reason.
Telemedicine provides a remedy to many of these barriers, with the practice already having a successful track record in the mental health field over the last twenty years. As telemedicine becomes more widespread, mental health care is set to benefit even further, with the potential to be completely revolutionized by the nationwide adoption of telemedicine. Patients in remote areas will have the constant access to specialists that they require, while sufferers who feel shame and anxiety about stepping foot in a real-life doctor’s office can be eased into treatment from the comfort and security of their own home.
2. Prescription services
Going to retrieve a prescription has always been a bit of a drag for most people, but for some, it’s a relative impossibility. Those who are disabled or housebound can’t always make it to a doctor to receive the prescriptions they need. Telemedicine makes it possible for any patient to easily avail of their required prescriptions, as well as making the whole process easier for everyone who takes medication. All you need to do in most cases is download a relative app that you use to keep in touch with your doctor or order your medicine, or alternatively you can order up your prescription from the internet.
“And when talking about “prescriptions,” don’t just think pills, either; prescriptions come in all shapes and sizes, and cover many different varieties of illnesses or conditions. Telemedicine can help with all of them. If you require medical marijuana, you can sign up for an MMJ card at MMJ Recs. If you suffer from a mental condition and think you’d benefit from an emotional support animal, you can get yourself verified at Moosh. Or if you’re disabled or handicapped in any way, and unable to reach a doctor, you can retrieve a disabled parking permit at Dr Handicap.
Everyone knows that for any condition causing serious worry, your family doctor is merely a gateway to a specialist. Previously, if you lived in a rural or remote area, you’d have to be referred to the nearest specialist to your local area, who might not always be your preferred choice, or even the best option for your condition. With telemedicine, you can choose from a wide range of specialists and not get tied down to one just because they’re convenient. Telemedicine also reduces waiting times, which were previously inordinate, and helps patients see the specialist they require and want in much shorter order.