In our modern society where we can live video chat with relatives across the world, or visit our local farmers market’s and swipe our credit cards on “square” devices, the concept of Telemedicine is not foreign at all! In fact, the first use of telemedicine was during the 1950’s. Two hospitals in Pennsylvania, several miles apart, transmitted radiograph images via telephone. Telemedicine originated from the advances in technology to help physicians provide care to patients in rural areas, as well as serving as a bridge for the gaps in healthcare seen particularly in areas with shortages in medicine sub-specialties.
Telemedicine now allows health care professionals to use modern technology and telecommunications to evaluate their patients in a virtual visit. The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) defines telemedicine as”… the remote delivery of health care services and clinical information using telecommunications technology. This includes a wide array of clinical services using internet, wireless, satellite and telephone media. ”
Here is how telemedicine could work for you and your family:
- SAVES TIME: Often times a trip to the Pediatrician’s office for an illness, like a cough, results in a diagnosis with a lot of reassurance and instructions for home care. As parents we feel more comfortable sleeping (those of us who still have this luxury) at night knowing that we have the right instructions on how to manage their symptoms at home, even if that doesn’t include a prescribed medication. This same reassurance and education can be given via a virtual evaluation for non-urgent acute illnesses such as ear pain, fever, sore throat, vomiting/diarrhea , rashes and cough/cold symptoms, to name a few. It saves you the time you would have otherwise missed from work or your child missing school.
- CONVENIENCE : Colder weather is here and it’s not going away anytime soon. BRRR! Having to dress my toddler in layers and warm up the car for a quick errand makes me realize, sometimes, maybe I really don’t need those Oreos like I thought. Being able to connect with a physician on my phone or tablet from the comfort of my home with a sick child is a true #MomWin for me! Let’s face it, those of us with toddlers spend most of our days scheduling our adult life around THEIR nap time. So when my child is sick during after hours when our community physician is not available and the only option is the local ER that is full of adult patients, using telemedicine services makes sense for me.
- ON DEMAND ACCESS: As a physician I can name hundreds of reasons why I may not make it into your exam room at the exact start time of your appointment. From tasks like, helping a mom to clean up her son who just vomited, to returning a phone call from a worried mother, to double and triple checking prescription accuracy with the pharmacist, or writing out detailed home instructions for the first time mother who is fearful she isn’t “doing the right thing” for her newborn. As a mother of a pediatric patient I get it when the doctor is running behind BUT, I still think about the gazillion things I need to be doing as I am waiting and I do secretly wish it wasn’t “taking so long.” Telemedicine eliminates the wait-time, the time spent looking for parking, registering, updating insurance information, checking in at triage, sitting in the waiting room, waiting in the exam room and then waiting on your discharge instructions. Having a telemedicine visit connects you directly and instantly to the physician and most visits do not take more than 20 minutes to complete from start to finish.
- STRENGTHENED RELATIONSHIPS: Telemedicine helps keep the patient (parent) engaged with the provider by allowing more frequent contact. It is useful in pediatric practices when children often need follow-up appointments after a treatment plan has been started. Telemedicine use in pediatric offices helps cut-down on the length of time it could take to “get in to see the doctor”, especially during cold flu season when offices are very busy.
- SAVES MONEY: Not only does a virtual visit save time but it keeps more money in your pocket. Most telemedicine visits are equal to, if not less than, the price of a co-pay for an urgent care visit and they are less than a co-pay for an emergency room visit.
Telemedicine is modern technology that allows the patient to connect with their provider for evaluation and treatment of non-emergent, nor life-threatening illnesses and injuries. It is not meant to replace the routine well child visits. If you would like to learn more about telemedicine please visit my website for more information or to schedule a demo visit.
– C. Tilford, MD