Types of Telemedicine
Telemedicine is the use of telecommunication technologies to diagnose and treat patients remotely. While its clear telemedicine has a wide array of uses in many different medical fields, there are three predominant types that patients can expect to engage in: real time telemedicine, telemonitoring and store and forward telemedicine.
Real Time Telemedicine
When patients hear the term telemedicine, they’re most likely thinking of real time telemedicine. This type of telemedicine encompasses video conferencing as well as phone calls and live chat to provide patient care. Since it requires the actual presence of all parties, it facilitates the live communication between doctors, patients and specialists. This is the online equivalent of an in person visit as you are chatting with your doctor in real time providing interactive feedback leading to a diagnosis and a treatment plan. What makes this method even more convenient than an in person visit is the immediate availability of your doctor, the prompt care for your ailment, and the ease with which you can speak to a specialist if your condition requires it.
Remote Patient Monitoring
Telemonitoring or remote patient monitoring refers to using a telecommunications channel to gather and track patient health data. This can be in the form of a patient jotting down data daily and submitting the information to the doctor via email, patient portal or by phone. Alternately, the patient may have medical devices that are equipped to continuously track data and automatically submit it to physicians. For example, diabetic patients may be required to manually jot down their glucose levels daily, or a patient with a heart monitor may automatically transmit the feed to doctors who can track the patient’s condition and detect any abnormalities.
The primary purpose of remote patient monitoring is to supervise a patient’s health status and make any necessary changes to treatment based on this data. As a result, telemonitoring is frequently used for tracking patients who have recently had surgery, as any changes in their condition can raise a red flag and immediate care can be administered.
Store and Forward
Lastly, there’s store and forward or asynchronous telemedicine, which involves health care providers taking images, videos and other relevant data to securely catalogue and send to specialists for review. A common example is a teleradiologist, who receives images of X-rays from doctors for interpretation via store and forward technology. With store and forward both parties need not be present, the patient’s file, along with images and a text description of the diagnosis would be sent to the specialist for review and treatment.
The imminent growth of telemedicine is undeniable. The innovation of medical and communication tools and technologies that allow patients to track their conditions remotely and provide reliable medical information to care providers is an important factor in the progression of telemedicine. The ease with which each of these types of telemedicine provides patients with effective remote healthcare is also a major driver in its development.
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