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What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine has been around for decades, but as technology and society change, so does the reality of what Telemedicine is.

Defining “Telemedicine”

In the most simple sense of the term, and as defined by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary; Telemedicine is the practice of medicine when the doctor and patient are widely separated using two-way voice and visual communication (as by satellite or computer). 

Essentially, Telemedicine is the act of providing medical care remotely. Telehealth is often used, sometimes interchangeably with the term Telemedicine, so it’s important to note that they essentially explain the same thing, but Telehealth is broader in that it is remote healthcare in a general sense, but Telemedicine is specifically remote medical care.

Why is Telemedicine important?

Telemedicine is important because it allows providers to cater to the needs of their patients from virtually any place at any time.

It increases efficiency, reliability, and affordability within our healthcare system. During the time of writing this post, much of the world is experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, which has put a spotlight on the importance and benefits of reliable Telemedicine.

COVID-19’s Impact on Telemedicine

As mentioned previously, the COVID-19 global pandemic has thrust Telemedicine and Telehealth into our mainstream culture quicker than we could have imagined. With much of the public under government-mandated or self-quarantines, regular visits to the Doctor or other healthcare professionals may not be possible.

Natually, both providers and patients have turned to Telemedicine and Telehealth platforms like DocBright or Teladoc as a viable alternative to in-person care.

Limitations of Telemedicine

While Telemedicine seems like a simple, secure, and reasonable alternative to in-person care, it’s important to note certain limitations. First, there are some basic minimum requirements in order to engage in Telehealth, and without at least one of the following, Telehealth may not be possible:

  • Access to a telephone
  • Access to the Internet
  • Access to a webcam or other device that can take and send photos

In communities that do not have access to any of the above, they are at a disadvantage and may be severly limited in their means to utilize Telehealth and Telemedicing options.

Additionally, Telemedicine is not viable for all problems. The following is just a small list of problems and complaints that aren’t suitable for Telehealth:

  • Emergency care (e.g. severe injuries, acute cardiac or respiratory problems, stroke and stroke-like symptoms, etc.)
  • Care that requires in-person diagnostics (e.g. blood tests, physical exams, full-body skin exams, etc.)
  • Procedural care (e.g. surgeries)

Is Telemedicine here to stay?

We think Telemedicine is here to stay! While we can’t know for sure, one thing is certainly clear: both patients and providers have been quick to adopt new Telehealth and Telemedicine technologies, and their convenience, affordability, and overall benefits won’t simply disappear.

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