Telemedicine was initially used to treat patients located in far remote places, inaccessible to healthcare facilities or in areas with shortages of medical professionals. However, today it has emerged to be an essential part of convenient healthcare delivery. Patients need quick service and do not prefer to wait for long hours to see the doctor. This was made possible by telemedicine and telehealth systems. Another reason for the advent of telemedicine is the growing use of technology day by day. Mobile health care applications, smart medical devices are easily accessible to monitor vital parameters. Glucose levels, blood pressure, and heart rate monitoring are some of the examples which could be measured from the comfort of your home. This data is then used for doctor’s diagnosis, hence saving out the time for professionals.
TYPES OF TELEMEDICINE
Telemedicine can be categorized into three types; store and forward, remote monitoring, and real-time service. The first type, store and forward does not include personal meetings of the physician with the patient. Medical reports or biological signals are sent to the medical professional after acquiring them from the patient. Store and forward type of telemedicine is used in the fields of radiology, pathology, and dermatology. The next is remote monitoring, also called self-testing utilizes medical devices to measure the clinical signs of patients. It is possible in diseases such as diabetes, asthma, and heart diseases. This method is cost-effective and frequent monitoring can be done. Finally, interactive or real-time service provides instant consultation of the specialist through video conferencing. All of these methods have their pros and cons; they are adapted as per the need of the patient and the availability of resources.
TELEMEDICINE IN CURRENT TIMES
The global pandemic of covid-19 has perhaps changed the way we look at medical practices and healthcare delivery. With the eventual rise in the number of cases in the community and many patients under home isolation, the only way to monitor and consult them is via telemedicine techniques and remote healthcare devices. Specialized platforms of teleconsultation have been utilized for asymptomatic patients. This ensures the availability of hospital beds to the people who need them the most. Healthcare providers who themselves are at high risk of infections can adopt these practices to consult patients and reduce clinic visits. Telemedicine can prove to be an excellent tool to examine the elder and vulnerable generation to prevent exposure. Telehealth can serve as an important tool for epidemiological supervision, to identify hotspots, predict the burden of the disease, and provide disease control measures. This platform can be used for the health education of individuals, families, or groups of people on various risk factors and for disease prevention of communicable and non-communicable diseases.
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
The digital improvements made in medical science make it more approachable for patients and convenient for healthcare providers. Coming years will experience the use of Artificial Intelligence and the Internet Of Things to a large extent in healthcare. AI-based communications will be used for making appointments, patient monitoring, and data management. IoT systems will accumulate patient data, convert them into effective summaries and present them to specialists; also cloud-based systems will make it possible for a doctor anywhere in the world to consult patients. Mobile healthcare will be normalized with smart medical devices for diagnosis as well as monitoring. Instant feedback from the consultants will be received after analyzing the reports.