Telemedicine is defined as the exchange of medical information via electronic communication, such as video messaging, email, and smart phone apps. As the concept has gained momentum, it’s quickly become a larger part of the healthcare model as a method of patient consultation, where a primary care provider may take part in a consultation with a patient or converse with a specialist in order to determine a diagnosis.
As mobile technology and instant access become an increasingly central part of our everyday lives, it only makes sense for medicine to participate in this global trend. Medical professionals are now able to take advantage of the Internet and the many technologies that are available to them in order to help both their patients, and their business.
One main challenge for practicing telemedicine is the lack of standardized rules. When it comes to reimbursement and licensing, each state has differing laws and regulations that physicians must understand before practicing via telemedicine. There are also varying guidelines on practicing across states, which may, in some cases, require providers to be licensed in multiple states. PrognoCIS EHR recently produced a white paper on state-by-state telemedicine regulations to identify Medicaid reimbursement policies, parity laws, cross-state licensing, etc and consolidate the information.
Benefits of Telemedicine
Telemedicine presents many benefits for providers and patients:
- Communication with remote areas with limited access to healthcare
Patients in rural and remote areas may not be able to easily reach clinics or hospitals. Telemedicine enables communication in these areas to provide basic healthcare.
- Immediate contact with licensed physicians
Easily allow patients to contact physicians for minor acute conditions such as colds, allergies, eye/skin irritation with a quick video call or photo message
- Remote patient monitoring
Wearable devices make it easy to monitor heart rate, physical activity, sleep patterns, and more from a distance. Remote monitoring also allows for improved care of seniors who may need to be closely observed for chronic care management.
- Minimized cost and resources
Because the entire visit can be completed electronically, both patients and providers are able to save time. General costs associated with medical visits, such as for administration and medical staff are also minimized with electronic visits.
Telemedicine has several uses in other aspects of medicine, including:
- Research and data collection: Medical professionals are able to remotely collect data for a health agency or testing facility to study.
- Consumer health information: Patients have access to an abundance of professional health information, discussion forums and support groups.
- Medical education: Medical professionals are able to continue their education through online seminars, classes, and discussions.
Telemedicine provides patients with improved access to healthcare, greater quality of providers, and a greater sense of satisfaction. It can help with reducing costs, improving efficiency, and decreasing hospital stays, thereby benefitting the providers as well.
PrognoCIS EHR’s complete Telemedicine solution offers integrated EHR and Practice Management software, e-Prescription capabilities, a custom mobile application, and more.