The Emergence of Telehealth and Telemedicine
Technology has revolutionized many aspects of human lives, one of which is healthcare. Today, spurred on by the necessity of meeting ‘virtually’, ‘telemedicine’ consultations are becoming quite commonplace. Patients no longer have to wait in the waiting room or at the hospital for ages before they can see the doctor. The sheer convenience that telehealth affords both doctors and patients is unparalleled.
Although online consultations are an everyday affair today, this was not always the case. Telehealth has a rich history and has gone through decades of advancements and fine-tuning to become the service we know today.
The History of Telehealth
The origin of telehealth is, unsurprisingly, closely tied to the history of telephones. In the 1940s, doctors in Pennsylvania used telephone lines to transmit radiology images over 24 miles. This was one of the earliest uses of telephones for medical purposes.
Over the next decade, healthcare providers in other parts of the country started experimenting with the concept of telemedicine. In the ’50s, a teleradiology system had already been created.
In 1959, virtual classes were already taking place at the University of Nebraska. In the early ’60s, this had been transformed into video consultations between patients and doctors as we know them today.
By the late ’60s, telehealth was already a popular way of reaching patients in remote areas. This was particularly useful in ensuring that Native American communities had access to vital healthcare services.
Today, telehealth has evolved exponentially. Doctors can obtain crucial real-time data about their patients using devices such as heart rate monitors and fitness bands. Healthcare providers also use smart glasses and watches to record vital data about patients. Some of these devices can even transcribe the data simultaneously. This reduces the amount of paperwork that the doctor has to do.
The Advantages of Telemedicine
The chief benefit that telehealth offers both doctors and patients is convenience. For patients, it means that they do not have to schedule a visit to the doctor’s office, travel to the office and then probably wait in line before they can see the doctor.
Additionally, it makes it easier for them to access on-demand care as soon as they require it. This can be lifesaving at times. For doctors, virtual consultations with patients can save them a lot of time, thus making their work easier.
For online consultation, all one needs is a stable internet connection and an electronic device such as a phone or laptop. As such, distance is not a barrier to receiving quality health care. This means that even communities in remote areas who are in dire need of health care services can access them with ease.
The Drawbacks of Telehealth
1. Lack of Infrastructure in Some Locations
Although electronic devices have become ubiquitous, some of the people who need critical services may not always have access to them. Stable internet connectivity is also hard to come by in many parts of the country. This lack of infrastructure makes it hard for some to access telehealth services.
2. Unreliable Healthcare
Medical misdiagnoses are a common complaint when it comes to telehealth. Some healthcare providers also provide consultation without the required certification. This can endanger the well-being of their patients.
On the whole, telehealth has many benefits for all parties concerned. As a physician, investing in telehealth can save you time and resources, especially in the wake of COVID-19. With a 50% increase in the use of telemedicine services in March this year alone, it is clear that telehealth is the future of healthcare provision.
For all your telehealth needs, consider contacting Call4Health, a leading provider of telemedicine solutions and services for doctors and therapists.