Adjusting to telemedicine: What is it and could it save our NHS?

*Collaborative Post

Telemedicine has become increasingly popular in recent decades, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. During this period, healthcare professionals needed a way to interact with patients while social distancing and telemedicine provided an obvious solution.

In this article, we’ll explain what telemedicine means, what the benefits are and more.

What is telemedicine?

Telemedicine is the name of a style of healthcare that provides medical services remotely through telecommunications technology. These services usually take place in the form of phone calls between doctors and patients.

This approach aims to doesn’t seek to replace face-to-face consultations, which are still encouraged when needed. Rather, it aims to give patients greater convenience and access to the care they need – while making it easier for doctors and healthcare professionals to deliver care.

What are the different types of telemedicine?

There are several types of telemedicine available, each playing an important role in improving healthcare.

  • Store-and-forward – Patient information including medical history, images, and bio signals are sent to a specialist, who can then diagnose a patient without the need for a physical appointment.
  • Telephone consultations – Patients get appointments with doctors via phone call, allowing them to be assessed and diagnosed from the comfort of their own homes.
  • Remote monitoring – using technological devices to monitor the health of a patient remotely, mostly used to manage chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and asthma
  • Telerehabilitation – Facilitates the remote assessment and dispensation of therapy for patients who need rehabilitation. Usually has a more prominent video element using webcams to assist.

In the future, we could see even more forms of telemedicine as the many benefits of this style of healthcare become better documented and accepted.

What are the benefits of telemedicine?

There are many benefits that telemedicine offers, for patients, healthcare professionals, and society as a whole. These include:

  • Greater convenience: Thanks to telemedicine, patients are spared the hassle of travelling to receive care. They can consult with a physician from the comfort of their own homes, easily fitting an appointment in around their schedules.
  • Freer access: Telemedicine removes many of the costs of getting healthcare, which can be a barrier for people with low incomes. It also makes care more accessible for people living in remote or rural locations.
  • Disease control: With fewer people interacting in busy surgeries, the spread of infectious diseases like Coronavirus or flu is more effectively mitigated. Reduced exposure benefits everyone, especially vulnerable people like the elderly, pregnant or immunocompromised.

Could telemedicine save the NHS?

With many Brits not receiving in-person care due to long waiting lists that are unlikely to fall soon, telemedicine could offer a way to ease the current severe pressures on the NHS.

Telemedicine doesn’t cover everything a patient might need, especially any emergency care. But it’s used to improve many aspects of healthcare and create better outcomes for patients.

Whether or not the benefits of telemedicine alone will be enough to remedy the fundamental issues underlying the current state of the NHS remains to be seen.

*This is a collaborative post. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.

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