What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine allows health care professionals to examine, diagnose and treat patients at a distance using telecommunications technology. The approach has gone through a striking evolution in the last ten years and it is becoming an increasingly important part of the American healthcare system.
Telemedicine in Carlsbad - History
What we recognize as telemedicine today started in the 1950's when a few hospital systems and university medical centers started to try to find ways to share information and images through the telephone. In one of the initial successes, two health centers in Pennsylvania were able to transmit radiologic images over the phone.
In the early days, telemedicine was used primarily to connect physicians working with a patient in one location to specialists somewhere else. This was of great benefit to rural or hard to reach populations where specialists aren't readily available. Throughout the next several decades, the devices required to carry out remote visits remained expensive and complex, so the use of the approach, while growing, was limited.
The rise of the internet age brought with it profound changes for the practice of telemedicine. The expansion of smart devices, with the ability of high-quality video transmission, opened up the possibility of providing remote healthcare to individuals in their homes, workplaces or assisted living facilities as an alternative to in-person visits for both primary and specialty care.
Telemedicine vs. Telehealth
Although the terms telemedicine and telehealth are often used interchangeably, there is a distinction between the two.
The term telehealth includes a broad range of technologies and services to offer patient care and enhance the healthcare delivery system as a whole. Telehealth is different from telemedicine because it refers to a broader scope of remote healthcare services than telemedicine. While telemedicine refers specifically to remote clinical services, telehealth can refer to remote non-clinical services, such as provider training, administrative meetings, and continuing medical education, along with clinical services. According to the World Health Organization, telehealth consists of, "Surveillance, health promotion and public health functions."
Telemedicine involves using electronic communications and software to provide clinical services to individuals without an in-person visit. Telemedicine technology is frequently used for follow-up visits, management of chronic conditions, medication management, specialist consultation and a number of other clinical services that can be provided remotely with secure video and audio connections.
Utilizing telemedicine as an alternative to in-person visits has a host of advantages for patients and providers alike.
- Less time away from work
- No traveling costs or time
- Less interference with child or elder care responsibilities
- No exposure to other potentially contagious patients
- Increased revenue
- Better office efficiency
- An answer to the competitive threat of retail health clinics and online only providers
- Improved patient follow through and better health outcomes
- Less missed appointments and cancellations
- Private payer reimbursement
Telemedicine can be defined as using technology (computers, video, phone, messaging) by a medical professional to diagnose and treat patients in a remote location.
There are few limitations to how telemedicine can be used. Here are a few examples of how it is being utilized today:
Using health software for regular follow-up visits is not only more effective for providers and patients, but it also increases the likelihood of follow-up, reducing missed appointments and improving patient outcomes.
Remote chronic illness management
The growing rate of chronic illness is a major problem for our health system. It is a prime candidate for the use of telemedicine software because it makes it easier and less expensive for patients to maintain control over their health.
Remote post-hospitalization care
One telehealth program for patients with congestive heart failure decreased 30-day hospital readmissions by 73 percent and six-month readmissions by 50 percent.
Preventative care support
Weight loss and smoking cessation are the keys to reducing heart disease and a host of other conditions. Telemedicine can be a helpful tool in connecting providers with patients to be sure they get the support they need to be successful.
School based telehealth - Telemedicine in Carlsbad
When children get ill at school, they might visit a school nurse or be picked up by their parents and taken to an urgent care center. Some innovative districts have partnered with physicians to perform remote visits from the school. The provider can evaluate the urgency of the case and provide directions or reassurance to parents.
Assisted living center support
Telemedicine software has already shown to be beneficial in keeping residents of assisted living facilities out of the hospital. Problems frequently happen at night or on weekends, making hospitalization the only choice even for less urgent problems. With telemedicine, on-call physicians can conduct a remote visit to determine if hospitalization is necessary.
Linette Williamson, MD is an Integrative Medical Doctor, who specializes in helping her patients and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in Carlsbad, California
Identify lifestyle factors that affect their everyday medical issues. Dr. Williamson uses cutting-edge testing to find imbalances that are related to your health problems. She will spend time with you to find out what specific issues you have and help you develop a specific plan that is unique to you.