4 Ways the Tech Industry is Disrupting Health Care Through Telemedicine

Health care has always remained pretty much the same. The basic process of visiting a doctor about concerning ailments goes back centuries, with doctors prescribing medicines and treatment plans they believe will aid in the cure of the disease. Of course, the medicine that medical professionals prescribe has changed significantly over the years, and continues to advance as research and resources expand. But the actual mechanism of health care has largely remained unchanged for many decades. It’s only with the explosion of the internet and digital technologies that health care is seeing a major shift, and as it currently stands, it’s at a tipping point. This new integration of health care and technology is known as telemedicine, and it’s set to totally overhaul the U.S. health system as we know it.

Telemedicine is not a new idea. It began in the sixties as a way of connecting doctors with their patients via telecommunications only. It was an outlier procedure that was useful to a small section of the medical community, but remained largely obscure for many decades. Recently, however, with the explosion of the internet and digital communication in general, telemedicine has reentered the health care sphere, and is currently making a huge impact. Let’s look at four major ways that telemedicine is disrupting the health care industry, and setting up an interactive, consumer-driven future for medicine in general.

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Part of making the health care sector more accessible for patients means broadening the reach of specialists.

1. Pushing a Consumer-Based Model

Consumers have already proven they are eager to accept digital technology in many forms, without caring which traditional practices fall sacrifice to it. One prime example of this is Netflix; this multi-million dollar juggernaut has almost completely dispensed with terrestrial television, as people move to a more practical on-demand service. The same is starting to be true of health care, too. Even though most patients wouldn’t consider health care to be a consumer-based service, as anytime you go to a doctor or hospital you’re acting out of necessity, in actual fact, that is what it is. Telemedicine allows patients more options, which essentially hands back the control to the patients, i.e. the consumers. This means that health care can become more focused on the needs of the patients, and even competitive in some branches, which in the long run is a great boon to people availing of it. Everybody knows how much health care costs, with bills sometimes running into hundreds of thousands of dollars; a consumer-based model would be beneficial to the entire sector.

2. Better Access to Specialists

Part of making the health care sector more accessible for patients means broadening the reach of specialists. Usually, family doctors and physicians are unable to help patients with specific diseases and disorders that require a more informed diagnosis. In these cases, which make up the majority of visits to regular doctors, the patient is referred to a specialist, who can then treat their condition with expertise in that particular field. For many decades, patients were assigned to the nearest specialist to them physically, which made sense for both patient and doctor. With the advent of telemedicine, patients are no longer limited to consigning themselves to one specialist, and can instead consult online with the one that suits them best. This is a huge turning point for the health care sector, and its impact on the industry cannot be overstated.

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Through telemedicine, patients are able to communicate with their health care professionals via data sharing.

3. Health Care on Demand

Previously, a trip to the doctor could take huge chunks out of a patient’s day or week. Now, with the introduction of telemedicine, the patient can experience health care on demand, on their own terms. This also makes it much easier for patients to schedule in appointments, and saves health care professionals a little bit of admin work on the side. Another benefit is on-demand health care being extremely useful in an emergency. Of course, it’s no substitute for the emergency room, but if unexplained symptoms flare up unexpectedly, you don’t have to wait until the next day to check the symptoms and ease your mind. Sites like MMJ Recs and Moosh also provide patients with specialized prescriptions over the internet, saving time and money.

4. Patients can Aid Doctors with Diagnoses

Through telemedicine, patients are able to communicate with their health care professionals via data, allowing doctors to get a broader view of their patients’ symptoms, and ideally leading health care professionals to a better idea of what they might be dealing with. Unfortunately, it is rare that symptoms will flare up during the fifteen minutes you’re in the doctor’s office, especially if they are on-and-off, or if they occurred some time before you managed to speak to your doctor about them. Telemedicine allows doctors to gather data over a certain period for bodily functions like blood pressure, heartbeat, and other elements that can be remotely monitored. As both health care and telemedicine progress, expect this particular benefit to increase substantially. It’s cheaper, too; several studies have shown that telemedicine saves money for both patients and doctors alike, making it a more economically sound option in what is generally regarded as a potentially expensive business.

The 5 Biggest Advantages of Telemedicine in 2018

Telemedicine in 2018 is an ever-changing landscape. Like most of the digital revolution, the change is fluid, rapid, and seismic. Telemedicine has already revolutionized the way patients and medical staff react and respond to health care at large, and it looks set to do so for many years to come. But when it comes to the here and now, what ways are patients benefiting from the telemedicine revolution? With 2018 almost halfway through, what are the advantages that patients and doctors alike are enjoying right now?

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Telemedicine provides an opportunity for patients in remote or rural areas to access premium level health care.

1. More Access to Care

Hospitals in the U.S. are routinely understaffed, leading to long wait times for patients who require access to specialists. This is not just an American issue, but a problem that routinely crops up all over the world. Telemedicine provides an opportunity to keep waiting room numbers down, leading to more streamlined care for both online and physical patients, and a more focused workload for doctors, who can then be more attentive towards their specific list of patients. Telemedicine also provides an opportunity for patients in remote or rural areas to access premium-level health care without committing a huge chunk of their time or resources. Overall, this will invigorate rural medicinal practice, providing these previously sidelined patients with a direct and instantaneous line to the health care they need.

2. A Wider Choice of Specialists

Whether a prospective patient lives in a rural or urban area, they are usually limited in the number of specialists they can see. A specialist is required in the majority of moderate to severe health cases, as general practitioners (or family doctors) generally act as a gateway, or initial diagnostic tool, to these more specific health care professionals. However, previously patients weren’t really afforded a choice of specialists; they were merely designated one and directed to see them. In more populous cities the situation is a little different, and patients can have more of a say in who they are referred to. But in general, you get what you’re given, especially if you live in a rural location with a slim number of specialists in the surrounding area. Telemedicine has changed this for the better; once your family doctor informs you what type of specialist you need to see concerning your condition, you can utilize telemedicine to locate and consult with the best specialist for your needs. This allows patients more freedom and choice when it comes to their treatment, and ultimately provides them with the best treatment possible.

3. Health Care on Demand

Many industries are turning to on-demand services with the advent of digital technology, so it’s no surprise that health care isn’t far behind them. While health care isn’t as simple as entertainment, where it’s simply a case of selecting the show or film you want from the Netflix library, there are a number of ways that telemedicine can help patients with their conditions. Patients can order prescriptions online and save the hassle of going to pick them up every time they require a new dosage. They can also apply for a medical marijuana card through sites like MMJ Recs, and benefit from the healing properties of MMJ in the states in which it’s legal. Emotional support animals are a major progressive treatment that helps to combat symptoms of widespread mental health disorders; to avail of an ESA, a patient requires a verified ESA letter, which can also be obtained via telemedicinal sites like Moosh. These are just a few examples of the way patients can benefit from new treatments from the comfort of their own home.

Divan Medical - MMJ

Patients can apply for a medical marijuana card through sites like MMJ Recs.

4. Lower Number of Readmissions

Patients with acute health issues are often readmitted to hospital, leading to a large number of patients being reintroduced to the system time and time again, despite knowing what their affliction is and exactly how to treat it. Research has shown that telemedicine significantly cuts down on these readmissions, improving patient workflow for medical staff, and decreasing the amount of stress and procedure that the patients themselves have to endure. As telemedicine advances, it’s likely that this statistic will reduce further, as readmitted patients will likely have a treatment plan laid out for them entirely over telemedicine. While we may be some way off that yet, it’s certainly something to look forward to in the future.

5. It Saves Money and Time

Everyone knows health care is expensive, whatever ailment you’re experiencing; unfortunately, this is par for the course all over the country. Telemedicine, however, is helping to reduce health care costs, and saving patients a lot of time in the process. Patients no longer need to travel to visit their doctor; they can consult with them on their own time and from the comfort of their own homes. This also significantly helps doctors, who can take on more patients, and cut costs on admin and paperwork simultaneously. The result is a cheaper, more productive health care initiative for both patients and doctors alike.

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