Who knew one day we would be shoving our phones down our throats to get some cold medicine? Well that day is FINALLY here! Hooray! That sounds gross but I promise, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Telemedicine has been around for years but recently, we are seeing technology and legislation get to a point that makes it something viable for everyday use. Don’t just read about it though! Listen to our Telehealth Practice Manager, Kimberly Glowacki, give you the rundown of how this benefits all of us.
What is the difference between telehealth and telemedicine? (Quick Down and Dirty)
In 2014, the Department of Health & Human Services department clarified the two terms:
“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, in addition to clinical services.”
Where have you been all my life?
Telemedicine has been around for voer 40 years but due to the threat of security breaches, telemedicine growth has been slow. However, in the last couple years new legislation has been introduced to give telemedicine a platform for growth. New technologies are able to effectively address security concerns that were holding it back. Patient records, credit card information, and other sensitive information now can be secured with advanced breach protections and a more secure connection can be established.
Where is it being used?
The biggest use for it today is provider to provider. Healthcare providers are now able be at a remote facility while still seeing patients that are hours away. This gives the patient the freedom to have quality visits with doctors they would not otherwise be able to see. Also, doctors have been limited in their ability to recommend the best doctors due to travel times and the patients ability to reach them. Telemedicine finally addresses those problems with doctors having the ability to remotely see patients. The doctors are now able to give better referrals based on the patients needs instead of convenience.
Here at NSI, we have already implemented a telehealth program that allows our employees to see a doctor via phone for basic healthcare needs. We believe that you can’t serve a cake to your client without tasting it first. And this cake tastes delicious. Our employees have already seen why this tool can be so helpful through our implementation of a pilot program. This program lets our employees and their families see a professional through an online portal. Using telemedicine for common visits and eliminating the congestion in doctors office gives doctors more time with each patient and improves efficiencies. Doctors can reduce their cost without sacrificing the quality of care that they give to their patients.
Telehealth is now mature enough to provide real value in the healthcare industry. Healthcare providers have typically used a "hub" model of sharing information. The "hub" model collects information from all over and shares it in a joint databas. We are now seeing a "peer-to-peer" model being implemented where providers are communicating directly to give more in-depth information.
The most recent advancemnet in telemedicine are Virtual Medical Centers programs. These centers are being pilotted by smaller providers that allow patients to remotely see a selection of doctors to diagnose common ailments. They are able to diagnose and provide prescriptions for things like the common cold, ear infections, and other common health problems that clog the waiting rooms of doctor offices. These programs are still in their infancy but are expected to become commonplace within the next few years.
There is an exciting future for healthcare that doesn’t look like the healthcare we have today. Processes are changing to give better efficiecy to doctors while reducing cost to the patient. We can't wait!