Nowadays the issues of telehealth and telemedicine are becoming more and more popular among not only doctors but ordinary people as well. Still, there are a lot of people who have no idea what telemedicine and telehealth is. Let’s have a closer look at these practices.
Telehealth and Telemedicine
According to AAFP, Telemedicine is the use of modern means of communication for the remote provision of medical and consulting services. Telehealth refers broadly to electronic and telecommunications technologies and services which are used to provide care and services at-a-distance. Thus, telehealth refers to a broader field of remote health care services than telemedicine.
The Main Areas of Telemedicine
Naturally, the telemedicine concept includes a very wide range of tasks and solutions. In the most general form, they are divided into two large categories: “doctor-patient” and “doctor-doctor”. In reality, there are many areas of telemedicine, which can be grouped according to the main criteria of specialization. Nowadays the main areas include:
- Telemedicine consultations for patients;
- Remote biomonitoring.
- emergency consultations for doctors;
- operations broadcast in real time;
- distance learning and advanced training.
It should be noted that there are other practices, but for a general understanding of the telemedicine concept, these are enough.
Remote consultations and patient diagnostics are considered the most common and popular services of telemedicine. With the help of specialized videoconferencing systems, a full-fledged audiovisual contact is established between the consulting physician, his/her assistant and the patient. During such a session they can not only see and hear each other, but also exchange graphic and text data (for example, an x-ray of a patient or a doctor’s license can easily be shown).
This approach is very convenient in all respects. For a long time, telemedicine consultations have been positioned as a means of obtaining medical services in areas where there is no clinics or a specific specialist.
Today, users of telemedicine consultations are mostly residents of cities, who do not have enough time to monitor their own health, make an appointment with a doctor, etc.
Types of Care Provided by Telemedicine
Can telemedicine be useful for mental health problems treatment? Certain studies have proved that telemedicine can be very effective in treatment of depression and PTSD. Patients who are suffering from mental health problems and are looking for help use telemedicine for the same reasons as patients without mental health troubles. It is rather convenient, it is not expensive, and it provides access to a wider range of health care providers. At the same time, people who use telemedicine may not worry about the confidentiality of their care.
What’s more, telemedicine is used in other areas such as career counseling, personality and skill development, family conflicts, grief, medication management, and different kinds of traumas.
Experience Advice: Surgery Broadcasting
Of course, it is impossible to ignore such a specific field of telemedicine, as the broadcasting of surgical operations. This direction of telemedicine is used for so-called “Tele-mentorship”, when beginners or inexperienced surgeons watch a surgery conducted by a highly qualified specialist online. Moreover, unlike simply watching the video, in the case of video conferencing, there is an opportunity to ask questions on the go or immediately after the operation – to get detailed explanations, to analyze difficult situational moments, etc. All this helps doctors to become more qualified and to get more experience in this or that area.
During the surgery, specialists can transmit images of various medical equipment (microscope, endoscope or operating table), recorded by digital video cameras.
It is also possible to transmit telemetric information (on the patient’s pressure state, his/her pulse rate, etc.). And as everyone knows, experience for the surgeon is the most important quality. Moreover, today medicine is developing rapidly, and such new types of operations are becoming available, which had not even been thought of before – and this is only the beginning. But how can you quickly share your experience with the professional community of the whole world? It’s easier, faster and more efficiently, with the help of video conferencing tools e.g. telemedicine. And who knows how many lives the experience obtained in a timely manner have already saved. So the prospects of telemedicine today are more than certain – this direction will be actively developed for many more years.