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What Is the Future of Telemedicine?

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Today is a perfect example of the benefits and future of telemedicine. You woke up to the wind knocking over the furniture on your deck. While you slept, the temperatures plummeted to five degrees, with a windchill factor of 20 below. After a week of rain, sleet, snow intermittingly making everything a complete slushy mess, the falling temperatures have made the sidewalks and streets a skating rink. You woke up relieved that you would not need to drive the 20 miles to town for the doctor’s appointment.
Instead, you have a scheduled phone call and video conference. You will use the special phone attachment so they can check you readings on your pacemaker and you are done until the next month. What a relieve to know that your next in office scheduled visit is not for another six weeks, a time when the temperatures will be warmer and any moisture will be welcome because it will be bringing the spring flowers.
For the sake of both convenience and cost, the future of telemedicine seems to be very bright in America. For everything from therapy apointments to establishing dermatitis seborrheic treatment options, many visits that once required a long stay in the waiting area before even seeing a doctor can now be handled via phone calls and teleconferences. Teledermatology enables doctors to diagnose and prescribe treatment to the more than 40% of teens who have acne and acne scarring. The use of technology can also be used to diagnose conditions and make recommendations for questions as diverse as facial spider vein treatment options and the estimates for the cost of laser hair removal.
As increased health coverage becomes available, doctor’s offices and insurance companies alike continue to look for ways to make the administration of these services more cost effective and time efficient. Currently, close to 70% of physicians and other healthcare professionals are already using some form of telemedicine. If they are not already, many of these healthcare providers are planning to implement telemedicine practices in the next few years.
While the healthcare workers themselves see the future of telemedicine as an opportunity, it should come as no surprise that patients themselves also look forward to the benefits. Nearly 70% of patients, for example, indicate that they would usually prefer on online visit as a first step toward getting necessary treatment, including prescriptions, than having to make a physical visit to a crowded doctor’s office.
While not all medical conditions will ever be able to be treated online or over the phone, the fact that many routine check-ups and evaluations can be done this way, frees up physicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers for the patients who need lengthy face to face care. When insurance companies factor in a savings of close to 40% for telemedicine services when compared to traditional office visits, it does indeed seem that the future of this new model is very bright.

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