Practicing medicine is not a new concept. People suffering from any number of diseases and ailments have been visiting physicians for centuries, even when a physician could do hardly more than sit at patients’ bedsides and monitor their vitals. Trained physicians can now provide a higher level of care at state-of-the-art facilities with the assistance of experts such as nurses, radiologists, and other specialists. Some, (1)similarly, believe that the healthcare industry is not adapting quickly enough to one of the most important innovations of the 21st century. Thankfully, healthcare has come a long way since then. (2)
Technology and the digital age have become intertwined with almost every aspect of modern society, and while modern healthcare facilities utilize technology in their equipment and healthcare devices, little has been done to popularize telemedicine. This term refers to remotely monitoring, tracking, and diagnosing patients. Often accomplished via smartphones, personal computers, or monitoring tools such as blood pressure cuffs, telemedicine allows patients to receive proper care without leaving their homes. By reducing the number of hospital visits and doctor appointments, telemedicine can save time and money. And while convenience is a great aspect of this method, the safety of the patient is obviously the greatest factor. (3)
Telemedicine allows medical professionals to keep track of their patients in real time, giving them a chance to notice any problems before the patient even visits their local hospital or doctor’s office. Without this remote system of monitoring, doctors and nurses cannot know if the patient is having a problem until they have an in-person consultation, by which time it is often too late.
Every other industry is incorporating telecommunications and the digital age (4) into their everyday operations, so why not healthcare? So much can be gained by utilizing telemedicine, especially with elderly or chronically ill patients that need to be monitored often but have a difficult time getting around. These patients will gain peace of mind knowing that their doctor is aware of their vitals and symptoms, even from miles away.
More and more healthcare executives are getting on board with the idea of telemedicine. A recent survey was conducted in order to assess the most valuable benefits of telemedicine. (5)This survey showed that 90% of participating healthcare executives said that the reduction of hospital admissions was a big factor in adopting telemedicine. While the upfront cost of providing electronic devices to chronically ill patients can be expensive, many companies saw a dramatic decrease in hospital stays among the participating patients. This is often enough to incentivize executives. The best choice medical professionals can make is to incorporate technology into common practice, just as other industries have already done.