The Future of Telemedicine
The use of telecommunications by physicians and medical facilities providing health care to their patients is known as telemedicine. It makes it possible for health care providers to be able take care of their patients in the home or other remote areas and gives caregivers the skill to transfer data. Telemedicine began with the start of the telephone and is used in various medical fields such as cardiology, oncology, and radiology. Telemedicine is considered a great benefit for both the patient and the economy, avoiding transportation costs to another facility when a specialist is needed.
Technology used in Telemedicine
The first type of telemedicine technology applications are called “store and forward” and is used for transferring digital images from different locations. A digital camera is used to take a picture by a healthcare professional which is stored and then forwarded by computer into another computer. This is used for situations that are not emergencies and the results are normally sent back 24-48 hours. Common uses of the “store and forward” technology is with teleradiology. This is when CT scans and MRIs can be forwarded from one place to another anywhere in the world. Many medical centers are changing over to this technology.
Another popular form of telemedicine is two-way, interactive television. This technology is used when the patient and healthcare provider gather together and connect to a medical specialist at another site. Videoconferencing equipment is used at both places allowing for a consultation to take place. Interactive television benefits most all areas of medicine. It allows healthcare providers to be able to look into ears and the activity of organs in the body. The clinical information transfers through the web.
Benefits of Telemedicine
Telemedicine benefits both the patient and healthcare provider by giving better access the patient and giving a quicker and correct diagnoses with convenience. Another benefit telemedicine provides is reducing healthcare cost and increasing efficiency through better management of diseases, staffing, shorter travel times, and less of a hospital stay. Telemedicine gives more independence to elderly allowing them to stay independent longer. Family members do not have to give 24 hour care to the patient, also giving the patient a better mental status by remaining independent.
The technology of telemedicine allows for patient records to be kept safe forever on an electronic format. The information is accessible to the healthcare providers and is updated each time a patient receives treatment. Patients spend less time at medical facilities by using telemedicine which streamline the process of patient care. Patients are more satisfied and feel more involved with their care and less nervous.
Telecardiology is a process of ECG waves being transmitted with the guide of wireless and telephone. This process was first done in 1958 and ECG tracings were transmitted about 40,000 feet. There are various methods to send these waves, however the oldest system method came from Gwalior City of India in 1975. A telecardiology system enables wireless transmission of electrocardiograph from the home of a patient.
The ECG converts to sound waves along the frequencies which helps monitor patients with pacemakers. Telecardiology technology allows medical care in rural and remote areas. The benefits of telecardiology is being able to reach isolated communities and people in remote regions. The waves can travel wireless or though a telephone wire.
One of the most common applications of telemedicine is teledermatology. Telecommunication technologies are used exchanging the patients medical information using audio, data, and visual communication about their skin conditions and tumors of the skin. Teledermatology was first developed in 1995 by two dermatologist Perednia and Brown. It is practiced on two concepts, store and forward.
Dermatologists rely on diagnostic images for centuries. With the improvement of telecommunications and computer and the low-cost of digital cameras make teledermatology more valuable than ever. Not only is it useful in diagnosing a patient, it can be used a teaching method. Teledermatology is used among healthcare professionals needing a second opinion on a consult.
Teleradiology is the travel of radiological images from one place to another for medical purposes. It improves patient care and allows radiologists to give a service without being at the location of where the patient is. It allows for a trained medical professional to be available 24/7 for diagnosing versus a medical profession only available only at certain times of the day. A teleradiology network is performed using up-to-date technology and software and transmits the images to the radiologists to be interpreted.
In order for teleradiology to work, the image is scanned to the modem. After the image is sent to the modem, impulses are sent to the receiving station. The impulses are stored and converted back into the original image. The image is viewed by a radiologist who can diagnose the patients problem.