Medical advancements are happening all the time. At this very moment, teams of scientists and researchers all over the world are hard at work, attempting to find treatments and cures for a number of malicious diseases. While nobody knows how far off we are from curing cancer, the most devastating, prevalent disease of them all, we are certainly close to finding remedies for long-time afflictions like Alzheimer’s, or at least slowing them down considerably. Like many other industries in 2018, the medical field is constantly in flux, developing all the time. One of the most exciting developments to emerge in recent years is telemedicine, a movement that digitizes health care, making it more accessible for both patients and doctors. But as telemedicine usage increases, will it ever overtake tried-and-tested, traditional health care?
When we talk about telemedicine, the first thing to remember is that it isn’t actually some new-fangled initiative. It actually dates back decades, to the 60s – and if you think about it that way, the name ‘telemedicine’ does sound like something older rather then modern. It was initially a way for doctors to communicate with remote patients via telecommunications, without the need to see them at home; the practice was considered an outlier service for many years, only being used sporadically. However, with the recent advent of digital technology, telecommunications came back with a bang. Not only was remote communication now all the rage, it could actually be instilled in a meaningful way for patients and doctors alike.
The name telemedicine is still used, but in practice it’s actually more like health care on-demand. In fact, the new form of telemedicine bears very little resemblance to the old. It also utilizes a number of digital technologies, not just telecommunications, to bring health care to a wide array of patients all over the world. Many industries have been bolstered by an on-demand type of service; Netflix and other on-demand platforms have dominated traditional TV, almost to the point of extinction, and people are much happier because of it. CDs are a rarity these days, as Spotify and music streaming platforms have assumed control of that particular industry. It’s clear we are moving towards a more fluid, connected society, where the traditional barriers between consumer and service are coming down. Telemedicine is a perfect addition to this array of digital advancements, and has already seen significant application in the field.
Telemedicine is aiding patients in a number of varied ways. Some examples of this can be found in the prescription of medical marijuana, which can now be obtained (in MMJ-legal states) over the internet from outlets like MMJ Recs. The situation is similar when it comes to emotional support animals; this progressive new therapy for mental health patients involves easing the symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and bipolar disorder with the presence of an animal, who serves as a companion and consistent source of comfort for the patients. To register as an ESA owner, you need a verified document from a medical professional, known as an ESA letter. This can also be procured via telemedicine, from a site like Moosh, making it easier for patients to avail of this service from the comfort of their home.
The benefits of telemedicine are many and obvious. But the real question here is: will telemedicine ever overtake traditional, face-to-face health care? In short, the answer is no. Traditional health care is invaluable to patients and doctors, and nothing will likely ever replace face-to-face consultations; they are the best way for a doctor to appraise their patient’s state and the disorder they’re affected by, and it will remain that way for the foreseeable future. It is impossible to provide telemedicinal healthcare for every type of ailment; the more serious ones invariably (and sometimes inevitably) involve surgery and other physical interventions that telemedicine, in its current state, just can’t match.
It is best, then, to see telemedicine as an extremely valuable health care tool, rather than a usurper to the traditional health care system. It is designed to work hand-in-hand with physical consultations, not to replace them fully, and while it holds many advantages over them, it is still only a method to optimize patient care, not overhaul it completely. Telemedicine is a lifesaver for patients living remotely; via only an internet connection and a device, it allows them to contact a health care professional and have any worrying symptoms checked out immediately. It also grants patients better access to specialists; previously, if you lived in a rural area, there would usually be only one or two specialists in close proximity at your disposal. With the advent of telemedicine, a whole spectrum of specialists become available to patients, no matter where they are in the world.
Although we’re all still learning the ropes when it comes to digital technology, it’s apparent that it’s here to stay. Telemedicine provides a way of integrating this developing field with traditional health care. By taking the best of both worlds to create a new health care structure, the future looks bright for patients.