If you’re hearing the word “telemedicine” everywhere and wondering where this trend has come from, you’re not alone. Thanks to smartphone technology, telemedicine is making a massive impact upon the health care landscape and is truly revolutionizing the lives of patients. As well as bringing medical expertise to the comfort of patients’ homes, it offers convenience and value, and empowers patients to be able to make better informed decisions in relation to their health care.
Telemedicine has been around for as long as telecommunications technology has been. It can be defined as the use of telecommunication and information technology to convey medical advice and health care. Radios have been used to convey health care throughout the twentieth century, particularly in war environments. In the current climate, smartphones are making it easier than ever for doctors and other medical professionals to provide health care to patients over the phone using video chat facilities to provide a quick and easy avenue to health care for all kinds of patients.
So how does a telemedical appointment even work? It’s way easier than you think. Usually, you’ll either make an appointment or log onto a website to get an appointment. If your medical professional is not immediately available, you’ll go to a virtual waiting room, where you’ll hang out until they’re ready to see you. As the consultation begins, you will discuss your issue with whoever you’re seeing. They may ask you a number of questions about your symptoms and lifestyle as they would in a face-to-face consultation. They will use the camera feature on your phone to do a video chat to enable the consultation. They may ask to see physical symptoms and will advise you on the best way to recover. If you require further physical testing, such as blood tests or X-rays, they can write a referral letter; if you need a prescription, they can send it directly to your pharmacy, saving you time and hassle.
Why are patients choosing telemedical appointments instead of in-person ones? Convenience is a huge issue. In today’s busy society, many doctor’s offices have chosen to not offer flexibility to patients who may not be able to get an appointment outside of office hours. If you can attend a consultation from the comfort of your own couch instead of schlepping to a random doctor’s office, why wouldn’t you? This is also a massive advantage for patients who have limited mobility, who may find it much easier to combine busy lives alongside a disability by choosing to partake in medical advice via telemedicine.
Another reason that telemedicine is becoming increasingly popular is that it is usually cheaper than going to a traditional doctor’s appointment. Due to fewer overheads, telemedical companies can usually offer incredibly competitive rates for their patients which traditional doctors may struggle to match. Many telemedical doctors work from home and so they don’t have to combine office costs alongside other charges associated with running an office. People are becoming far more conscious of their money, so it’s a no-brainer to pick telemedicine in this case.
It is also often easier to access your medical information if you are a patient who uses telemedicine. Your records will usually be kept in a centralized database that can be easily accessed by the patient at any time. In a traditional doctor’s office, your records are usually not easily accessed and you have to submit a request to view them or to have them sent to another establishment. With telemedicine, you are empowered to view your own information and to make decisions based off what is in your records.
While the advantages of telemedicine are clear, it is also important to do your homework to ensure that you see a medical professional who is fully qualified to practice. It is far easier to exercise quality control when you see a doctor in person, so you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions about the telemedicine company that you might use. Any reputable organization will be more than happy to provide you with whatever information that you need to put your mind at rest, so be wary of anyone who seems wary or skittish about providing standard information in relation to qualifications and regulations. Professionals will want their patients to be comfortable and luckily, most companies will be more than happy to do whatever it takes.
While you may be currently questioning why this phenomenon is so popular, once you start using telemedicine, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start earlier. Its ethos is that it is totally centered around patient comfort, confidentiality, and convenience, so it’s no wonder that it’s so popular. As technology progresses, telemedicine will too – so get in on the ground floor and watch how it changes the way that you interact with your doctor forever!