In an age where digital devices are becoming more and more prevalent, many tasks are becoming simpler for us thanks to our new tech-based companions. While most of these tasks include the non-essentials such as texting, learning languages and checking our bank balance, this new technology includes plenty of important applications as well. We can use our smartphone to keep track of our heart rate, measure how much exercise we’re getting per day, and even check in with our doctor. The latter is called telemedicine, and although it utilizes the most modern devices on the market (smartphones, tablets, etc.), it’s a practice that has been around for decades.
Telemedicine is essentially defined as the utilization of clinical services through telecommunications. For a large number of years, this meant a telephone; but recently, with the light speed development of communications technology, telemedicine has found a whole new place in the world, and people up and down the country are utilizing it for medical purposes. This has a number of advantages. One of the most obvious is that it benefits people who are either physically unable to get to their doctors, or live too far away from one to avail of it consistently. Take for example a handicap parking permit; a patient who requires one of these essential tools for the disabled is often not able to visit a doctor’s office to get one. Telemedicine solves this issue by letting the patient confer with a doctor from the comfort of their home. This is just one concrete example of how telemedicine is making medical practice more accessible to people who need it.
When it comes to the health of their children, many parents rightly refuse to compromise. When kids get sick, they react differently than adults, and the younger they are, the harder they find it to express their symptoms in words. This in turn makes parents more likely to seek medical care as soon as possible. There’s something reassuring about going to see a living, breathing doctor and having them check your child for symptoms. However, parents should definitely consider using telemedicine to care for their children as it comes with a whole host of benefits.
Chief among these benefits is the ability to confer with medical professionals straight away. As mentioned above, parents want a lightning fast response when their children are struck down with sickness. With telemedicine, you don’t even have to leave your house. You can start up your laptop or your tablet, and very soon be in consultation with a medical professional. This is especially applicable for families who don’t live near a doctor’s office; it can save precious time and also provide a baseline peace of mind for parents whose children suffer from a chronic disorder or are prone to sickness.
Going hand in hand with this valuable timesaving feature is the fact that, on a whole, telemedicine costs much less than in-person clinic visits. This is great news for families who might be hard pressed to come up with the doctor’s fee every time their child needs to visit the clinic; it can can dramatically reduce these costs, as well as negating any travel costs associated with doctor’s visits. On the other side of the line, telemedicine also reduces hospital and clinic costs; doctor’s can get through more patients in the day, and the use of online technology serves to reduce admin costs associated with in-person visits. Telemedicine can also reduce non-necessary ER visits but getting symptoms checked out at home first, to ascertain whether an ER trip is required.
Children are often referred to specialists to get to the bottom of their particular health issues, and telemedicine can also help on this front. Traditionally, with any ailment that require specialized treatment, a primary care physician is merely the gatekeeper for a referral. Also, as a patient, you are shackled to the nearest specialist to your home or local area. With telemedicine, you can seek out the best specialist possible for your child, because the limits of proximity are removed. For patients in rural areas, this is especially beneficial, and reduces waiting times if the specialist in question is catering for many separate patients across a large area.
It might seem like a big leap when compared to the tried-and-tested clinic visits, but studies show that 74% of patients prefer easy access to their healthcare, and have come to fully embrace telemedicine. When it comes to children’s health, no risk is worth taking; the practise of telemedicine is one that can revolutionise the way America looks at healthcare, and comes with many benefits for patients and medical professionals alike. Ultimately, telemedicine is only going to become more prevalent as the technology evolves to support it. Jumping on this particular bandwagon as soon as possible will prove advantageous for patients (and parents) up and down the United States!