What is telemedicine?

In clear terms, telemedicine is the use of telecommunications technology to provide education remotely as well as provision of health care services. This also means using said technologies to provide remote clinical services to patients in need of one.

The use of medical imaging like x-ray, medical diagnosis & evaluations including specialist consultations via video consultations are all examples of how telemedicine operates.  Telemedicine is sometimes confused for telehealth, while most times, it is used interchangeably because both represent similar services. Telehealth is a broad term that simply means the dispersion of all health services via telecommunications technology. This usually involves non-clinical services such as administrative meetings, provider training, or explaining medical education.

Telemedicine was first created to basically provide health services to patients based in remote locations, far away from healthcare services or locations where there are limited medical professionals. The success of this method has seen telemedicine explode during this recent COVID-19 public health issue, and we have embraced this platform here at Village Dermatology.

Why Telemedicine?

The answer is simple – In the recent past, both medical professionals and healthcare recipients want to spend less time gaining access to adequate health services.  However, during the COVID-19 pandemic delivering high-level medical services remotely has been perfectly tailored to the CDC recommendations of social distancing and self-quarantine.

In recent years, the rise of telemedicine today is largely due to the factor that people are always on the move and want things done immediately. Moreover, the lack of excess medical professionals available to cater to the health needs of the ever-growing population has also contributed to the rapid increase in the establishment of several telemedicine companies.

Currently, telemedicine has aided our ability to see patients for specific dermatology conditions and offer them the medical support they need at this point in time.  Furthermore, most medical practices have been pushing telemedicine off for years, and now everyone has been forced to use to this technology to treat patients accordingly.  We here at Village Dermatology have always leaned into technology, and we will continue to offer telemedicine visits after we get through this situation.

Some experts say that telemedicine has the possibility of offering 24/7 access to medical services with the assistance of an on-call medical staff employed by the company. Some of these telemedicine companies provide extra clinical staff and specialists to hospitals and large health centers to assist with special cases.  The full story of telemedicine has yet to be written as we all begin dealing with the effects of COVID-19.  However, we are thankful that we are in a position to use these resources appropriately to treat our patients.

What Are The Benefits Of Telemedicine?

Telemedicine has proved itself as an essential aspect of mainstream telehealth. When used right, it is useful for the wider health community as a legitimate form of patient care especially through secure technology.

Here are other advantages of using telemedicine:

  • It helps to reduce the burden of having to travel and take time off work for medical appointments especially in situations where there are no clinicians nearby for those that live in rural locations.
  • For overloaded clinicians, telemedicine serves as a means to still be able to provide the care even when physical limitations (building, parking, scheduling, etc.) are stretched beyond capacity.
  • With the advent of high tech telehealth devices, it is easy to get vital clinical data of patients with critical health challenges such as chronically ill cardiac patients, diabetics or even the elderly populations
  • In the event of a public health pandemic (like COVID-19) whereby physical contacts are not allowed, telemedicine is the perfect option to still be able to keep in touch with patients and provide useful health services/advice with the use of technology.
  • It saves you money, considering there are fewer ER visits or trips to the doctors, plus fewer missed appointments and cancellations.

Limitations to Using Telemedicine

As is the same with all technological devices, there are some limitations on what telemedicine can be applied to. While telemedicine clearly has its huge benefits as seen above, there are some cons to it that should be put into consideration.

  • For some medical conditions, even some dermatology conditions, it is impossible to provide effective health services for them, and you would need to arrange to be seen in person by your medical providers.
    • Maybe technology will continue to develop in this space, but there are some limiting factors that will prevent all medical interactions from being completed remotely. It is always best to trust your medical professional’s advice when they want to see you in person.
  • The use of telemedicine could, in the long run, reduce in-person interactions with doctors.

The effects of this would mean physical examinations may become a thing of the past by which it is necessary to make a full diagnosis. Also, dangers such as physical domestic violence may go unnoticed and lead to further health challenges.

Telemedicine Summary

Given the unique situation COVID-19 has put the world in at this time we are all trying to adjust to new realities.  We are thankful that we can still continue to deliver dermatology care to our patients in an effective manner during this fluid time.  We will continue to use technology to deliver the best medical care we can without compromising patient care.  Therefore, please understand that some medical conditions simply cannot be diagnosed or treated remotely and we will discuss options of dealing with those situations when you contact our office.

Finally, please stay safe out there and remember to practice social distancing and wash your hands!  We will get through this!

Village Dermatology

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