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Telemedicine - what is it?

Telemedicine is a way of providing medical services at a distance without physical contact between the doctor and the patient, most often through a telephone call or a video connection through a platform.

The greatest value of telemedicine is that it offers a convenient way of communication between doctor and patient, eliminating the need for a physical visit to the doctor's office. In this sense, telemedicine is economically advantageous because the patient does not waste time waiting in front of the office.


Through telemedicine, emergencies can be detected and selected in time, which require immediate attention in an emergency center or hospital, even outside the working hours of the general practitioner. It is also of great importance for the follow-up of patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol or arterial hypertension. Such patients usually do not have urgent problems, but they need help in adjusting drug doses, determining a diet and physical activity, writing prescriptions for medications that have already been prescribed to them once, or simply support.


An additional convenience of telemedicine is that examinations can be scheduled when the doctor has received all test results and has complete information about the patient. In fact, telemedicine has been practiced for a very long time, but it was not called by this particular term. Talking on the phone is also part of telemedicine! As technology advances, the possibilities for virtual meetings between doctor and patient are increasing and increasingly becoming a possible alternative to conventional treatment.


Advantages:


  • Makes healthcare more accessible – improving care for people living in remote regions with poor infrastructure or third world countries where they don't have enough medical professionals. Telemedicine also helps people with difficulty moving, for whom a visit to a health facility requires a lot of effort and expense;

  • Reduces medical costs - not only makes examinations cheaper for patients, but also reduces other medical costs, such as unnecessary visits to urgent care centers or hospitalizations due to patient non-adherence to prescribed therapy;

  • Reduces losses from missed working days - patients do not need to miss work to visit the doctor during working hours;

  • Doctors can see more patients, saving on home visits;

  • Makes consultation with a specialist more accessible - not only for patients, but also for doctors who need a consultation with a colleague;

  • It helps strengthen the doctor-patient relationship by enabling the patient to contact their doctor more often at a time convenient for them, ask them more questions and feel involved in their own treatment;

  • It improves the quality of health services, especially in the follow-up of patients with chronic diseases.

Patients with infectious diseases do not put the other patients waiting in front of the doctor's office at risk of infection, as well as the doctor himself. This is especially relevant in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has greatly affected a number of countries.


Access to different specialists on the same platform, and if necessary, the patient can be further referred to another doctor.


Disadvantages:

  • Requires purchase of relevant equipment (computer, telephone) and computer literacy;

  • Sometimes there can be inconsistency in the patient's therapy - some companies offering telemedicine services employ a large number of medical professionals who are available online to patients at any time of the day. This means that the same person may, at a different stage of his illness, be consulted by different doctors and thus receive conflicting advice;

It does not provide an opportunity to physically examine the patient - in many cases, to make an accurate diagnosis, it is necessary for the doctor to touch the patient's body or listen to it, which is impossible during a video connection. In this sense, telemedicine is suitable for performing secondary, but not primary examinations (with the exception of the above-described possibilities for examination using specialized mobile devices).


Telemedicine Platforms: Synevo HomeDoc, Healee, Consento

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