What is telemedicine and what is it used for?

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Medico telemedicina

In a world where information and communication technology is advancing at an astonishing pace, the way we access healthcare is undergoing an unprecedented revolution.. Telemedicine, a term that was once little known, has become a crucial part of modern healthcare. Now, we can connect with healthcare professionals and receive quality medical care from anywhere.

In recent years, and even more notably during the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth and telemedicine have experienced significant growth. Millions of people around the world have turned to online medical consultations, remote monitoring, and second medical opinions without leaving their homes.

Differences between telehealth and telemedicine

Difference between telehealth and telemedicine

Telehealth and telemedicine are two related but distinct concepts used in the field of healthcare and the provision of healthcare services at a distance.

Telemedicine: It focuses on remote medical consultations and diagnosis by healthcare professionals.

Telehealth: It is broader and includes not only medical care but also health advice, personal monitoring, and more to improve overall health.

What is a telemedicine service?

The concept of telemedicine, a term that combines “telecommunications” and “medicine,” refers to a digital healthcare modality. In essence, telemedicine uses information and communication technology to connect patients and healthcare professionals through electronic means, eliminating the need for a physical visit to the doctor’s office – it’s a telemedical consultation. Through electronic devices such as telemedicine carts, patients can access medical expertise and knowledge regardless of their geographical location.

What is the purpose of telemedicine?

A telemedicine service serves to provide remote medical care through technology, such as video conferences, telehealth phone calls, online chat, and other digital tools.

How does telemedicine work?

In its most basic form, online telemedicine enables medical consultations through video conferences or real-time chats. Patients can discuss their symptoms, receive preliminary diagnoses, and get guidance on treatments without having to leave their homes. This virtual interaction can involve both general practitioners and specialists in various medical fields.

Clinical telemedicine has expanded in recent years to address specialties. Today, it’s very common to provide pediatric telemedicine, cardiology telemedicine, dermatology telemedicine, diabetes telemedicine, ophthalmic telemedicine (teleophthalmology), or psychology telemedicine, as a high percentage of these consultations do not require in-person visits.

How is telemedicine conducted?

Digital Medical Telemedicine

Telemedicine and teleassistance require different implementation phases, and here are some of them.

Platforms and Technological Tools

The platform for telemedicine and technological tools are necessary to enable communication and interaction between patients and medical personnel. These tools can include mobile applications, video conferencing software, electronic health record management systems, and connected medical devices such as health monitors and sensors.

Online Connection

On the scheduled date and time, the patient and the healthcare professional connect through a video conference. During the consultation, the doctor can see and speak with the patient, just as they would in an in-person visit.

Evaluation and Diagnosis

During the video conference, the doctor conducts a medical assessment of the patient, asks about symptoms, reviews the medical history, and, in some cases, may request additional tests.

Treatment and Recommendations

The doctor can prescribe medications, provide self-care recommendations, or refer the patient to a specialist if necessary.

Follow-Up

After the initial consultation, additional appointments may be scheduled to review the patient’s progress and adjust treatment as needed.

Electronic Medical Record

All information related to the consultation is recorded to ensure proper tracking.

Prescriptions and Documentation

If medical prescriptions or other documents are needed, the doctor can electronically send them to the patient.

The Four Categories of Telemedicine

This system encompasses four types of telemedicine, which differ in how medical services are delivered and communication takes place at a distance. The appropriate choice will depend on the specific needs of the patient and the clinical case in question.

Interactive Telemedicine

Interactive telemedicine involves real-time communication between a patient and a healthcare professional through electronic means, such as video conferences, phone calls, or video chat. During these real-time interactions, the patient can communicate their symptoms, receive medical guidance, ask questions, and receive preliminary diagnoses. It is similar to a traditional medical consultation but is conducted remotely, allowing medical care when physical visits are not possible.

Non-Interactive Telemedicine

Non-interactive telemedicine involves asynchronous communication, where there is no real-time interaction between the patient and the healthcare professional. Examples of non-interactive telemedicine include sending medical images, lab reports, and electronic health records for later review and consultation by the healthcare professional. This form of telemedicine is useful for obtaining second opinions, reviewing test results, and efficiently sharing medical information.

Teleexpertise

Teleexpertise is a specialized form of telemedicine in which a healthcare professional (expert) provides their opinion or advice on a specific medical case to another healthcare professional seeking their expertise. It may involve the review of medical studies, images, or clinical information to assist in diagnosis or treatment planning. Teleexpertise is especially valuable in areas where specialized medical expertise may not be locally available.

Telemonitoring

 

Telemonitoring involves remote monitoring of patients, typically with chronic conditions, using internet-connected telemedicine devices.

Health data, such as blood pressure, blood glucose level, or heart rate, is transmitted through devices and shared with healthcare professionals. Doctors can continuously track the health of patients and take action when significant changes in the data are detected. Telemonitoring can improve the care and management of chronic diseases by enabling early and personalized intervention.

What is telemedicine equipment?

Telemedicine equipment is a set of technologies and devices used in the delivery of medical services at a distance. Some telemedicine companies in Spain work with different products to create reliable medical technology.

Here are some of the most commonly used telemedicine devices:

Telemedicine Carts

Digital Cameras

Telemedicine Kits

Telemedicine Software

Ordenador para telemedicina

Examples of telemedicine

Online Specialist Video Consultations: Patients can speak with their doctors via video calls instead of visiting the clinic.

Remote Monitoring of Chronic Diseases: Individuals can monitor their health from home and share the data with their doctors.

Dermatology Consultations Using Photos: Patients send photos of skin issues for evaluation by a dermatologist.

Online Psychological Therapy: Therapy sessions are conducted via video conferencing to address mental health issues.

Remote Interpretation of Medical Images: Experts interpret medical images like X-rays from anywhere.

Online Medical Education: Healthcare professionals can learn and stay updated through online courses.

Tele-Rehabilitation Supervised by Therapists: Patients perform exercises under the guidance of therapists via video.”

Benefits and Advantages of Telemedicine

Availability: Telemedicine consultations expand access to healthcare regardless of geographic location. This is beneficial in rural areas where traditional medical care may be scarce.

Cost Reduction: This system can help reduce healthcare-related expenses by eliminating the need for patient travel.

Exchange of Expertise: Telemedicine enables doctors and specialists from around the world to collaborate and share their expertise more effectively. This can result in more accurate diagnoses and treatments.

Reduction of Disease Spread Risk: The WHO has determined that telemedicine is particularly relevant in situations of epidemics or outbreaks of contagious diseases, as it allows patients to receive medical care without unnecessary exposure. This contributes to reducing the risk of disease spread by minimizing physical contact between patients and medical personnel.

 

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