Telemedicine has allowed for providers to effectively connect with their patients by phone, email and webcam, providing quickness and convenience on both sides of the health care experience. According to the American Telemedicine Association, more than 15 million Americans have received remote medical care in 2015. Patients can now send over vital stats, such as blood pressure numbers and heart rates quickly to their doctor using new technologies, giving doctors a new method for delivering care for chronic conditions.
Besides using telemedicine to connect with their patients, doctors are also utilizing telemedicine to connect with other doctors to give expert to expert advice and consultation. Due to faster internet speeds and updated technology, telemedicine can reach all over the globe, even to doctors and patients in remote areas.
Telemedicine has given practices a new way to operate; for example, Mercy Health Systems have a Virtual Care Center, where ICUs are monitored by specialists around the clock. The health system has reported that since last year, there has been a 35% decrease in the average length of stay and 30% fewer deaths.
Although telemedicine has brought major advancements in remote patient care, there are certainly challenges that have risen up. One challenge is the fact that telemedicine regulations are different from state to state and are constantly in a state of change. Telemedicine is also criticized because the quality of healthcare in the United States may not be parallel to telemedicine’s quick advancement in the industry. Also, telemedicine has not made its name for a majority of consumers – in a survey by HealthMine of 500 consumers, 39% have not heard of telemedicine. Besides the unfamiliarity of telemedicine, insurers are also less willing to pay for telemedicine services, causing an issue for physicians. Lastly, critics are also saying that patients may be trading quality for convenience when it comes to telemedicine, when compared to an in-person doctor’s office visit.
Read the original article from the Wall Street Journal here.