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Brian Macharia
Brian Macharia

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Telemedicine and Telehealth

Telemedicine
Using technology to deliver medical care at a distance. Telecommunication infrastructures are used by a physician/s to identify health issues of a patient from a distance.
Telehealth
Basically refers to electronic technologies and services such as telecommunication used to deliver service at a distance.
Telemedicine can also be referred to remote clinical services, while telehealth can be referred to as non-clinical services. Teleheath refers to a wider scope of remote health care services. The American Academy of Family Physicians supports implementation and use of telemedicine as a more efficient way to achieve UN goal on human health. When you have a question about your health, it is advisable to consult a primary care physician. If the doubts and symptoms persist you will eventually attend a clinic. With advancement in technology your work becomes more simplified. Using telemedicine you can receive medical advice from anywhere without interrupting your daily work schedule. As opposed to visit doctors and nurses at clinics, telemedicine allows patients to communicate with healthcare experts using communication technology.
Medical topics that can be discussed using telemedicine include symptoms, drug doses and precautions with healthcare providers in real time using emails, video and online portals. Receiving diagnosis, learning treatment options and getting prescriptions are among the uses of telemedicine. Medical officers can remotely read a patient’s progress by use of medical devices. Telemedicine is divided into various types, most common fields are interactive medicine, remote patient monitoring, store and forward.
Interactive medicine is also called ‘live telemedicine’ and is when healthcare personnel communicate to a patient in real time. Remote patient monitoring allows physicians to monitor patients who use mobile medical equipment to collect data on things like blood sugar levels, blood pressure, etc. Store and forward is when providers can share a patient’s health information with other healthcare professionals or specialists.
Since mid-20th century healthcare providers started remote services. Landline telephones were used to keep patients progress. With current advancement in technology, telemedicine has been embraced and has grown to offer wide variety of services in different ways. This include online portals managed by a personal doctor/ physician, remote consultation using video softwares and apps by companies offering telemedicine services.The need for more accessible healthcare is a driving force behind the growth of telemedicine. Whether a patient lives in a remote area or has a busy schedule that doesn’t allow time to visit a physician, telemedicine can help improve a person’s overall health and well-being. But it can also help your financial health. Access to a telemedicine provider can reduce the need to visit the emergency room.
Telemedicine isn’t appropriate for emergency situations like heart attack or stroke, cuts or lacerations, or broken bones that require X-rays, splints, or casts. Anything that requires immediate, hands-on care should be handled in person. However, telemedicine is very useful for simple issues and follow-up consultations.
For instance, if you suspect that a cut may be infected, you can schedule a virtual consultation with your healthcare provider to discuss your symptoms. If you’re on vacation and think you’re coming down with strep throat, you can communicate with your primary care physician. If you need a birth control medication, you can chat through your needs and get a same-day prescription.
It’s helpful for a variety of other health issues including psychotherapy and teledermatology, which offers consultations of moles, rashes, etc. Colds and flu, insect bites, sore throats, diarrhea, and pink eye are some other common issues addressed using telemedicine.
In primary care, telemedicine is usually in the form of phone calls, where the patient seeks the doctor’s advice about non-emergency medical problems which do not require the doctor to see the patient. Telemedicine does not replace face-to-face consultation when it is needed but instead complements it. The real role of telemedicine at present lies in the convenience it offers to patients and practitioners by obviating the necessity for a physical visit to get medical advice or treatment. It is also cost-effective in comparison to the process of waiting to see a doctor or other healthcare provider.
Telemedicine can also help select urgent calls after a doctor’s office is closed. It is of immense value in the follow-up of patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure. In these individuals who are not experiencing any immediate medical problem, but require help with dosage adjustments, lifestyle regimens, prescription refills, or even just access to group support, can benefit from the convenience of telemedicine.
An added convenience is that telemedicine consultations can be arranged to follow all needed laboratory investigations or vital sign monitoring. In fact, telemedicine has been practiced by doctors for a long time, though not under this name. While this may be true, the use of broadband internet technology has made both audio and video calls affordable and available to a wider spectrum of society, making this a feasible alternative to the conventional system.

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