What is the telemedicine ?
According to the WHO, Telehealth - or Telemedicine, is a term introduced in the 1970s, which means healing at a distance. The term is used to signify the improvement of patient outcomes, by increasing access to care and medical data.
In 2007 the WHO adopted the description of the term and broadened the scope to:
"The delivery of health care services, where distance is a critical factor, by all health care professionals using information and communication technologies for the exchange of valid information for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and injuries, research and evaluation, and for the continuing education of health care providers, all in the interests of advancing the health of individuals and their communities". (1)
From the different definitions, it is recognizable that telemedicine is a open and evolving term, as it includes the new advancements in technology and changes to the proceeding health needs.
According to the WHO telemedicine includes four essential elements:
- The purpose is to provide clinical support
- It is aimed to overcome geographical barriers, connecting users who are not in the same physical location
- Telemedicine involves the use of ICT
- It has the goal to improve health outcomes (2)
History of Telemedicine L'histoire de la télémédecine
Telemedicine can be traced back to the middle/end of the 19th century. The first published account of telemedicine happening was in the early 20th century, when, using telephone wires, ECG data was transmitted.
The 1960s shaped telemedicine to what is is today and the developments were largely driven by the military and space tech sectors.
Nowadays the recent advancements and increasing availability and use of ICT within the general population has been one of the biggest drivers of telemedicine, creating new possibilities for the health care service and delivery.
The COVID-19 Pandemic and resulting lock-downs, ambiance of fear and avoidance of public transport and places has sought a big increase in the use and availability of telemedicine.
Uses of Telemedicine
Telemedicine enables the usage of remote clinical services, such as diagnosis and monitoring. Telemedicine brings a plethora of opportunities for when access to health care is limited through rural settings, lack of transport, lack of mobility, decreased funding, or lack of staff. In these cases telemedicine can be used to bridge the gap. (3)
Today, telemedicine is used in various different medical areas, such as Emergency care, Medication-Assisted Treatment Through Telemedicine (Tele-MAT), Telenutrition, Telenursing, Telepharmacy, Teledentistry, Teleaudiology, Teleneurology, Teleneuropsychology, Telerehabilitation and many more.
Watch this video from CNBC to learn more about the impact of Telemedicine during the Coronavirus Pandemic:
Virtual Medical Tourism
At caresocius we have implemented a new strategy for enabling our Vision: "Access to healthcare, for everyone, everywhere".
To make our vision a reality, the usage of telemedicine has become a necessity. It enables our users to talk to a specialized doctor abroad. This improves the due diligence and trust from both the patient and the treating physician. The initial consultation can be used to further discuss the medical wishes and preferences the patient has, as well as the medical history of the patient.
The consultation is used to validate that the information presented is consistent and accurate. Potentially inquiring the patient to complete an additional diagnosis before the travel. This way both the patient and the doctor can be convinced of the feasibility of a medical procedure, before the patient even has to leave his home. Saving time and money on all sides.
(1) WHO. A health telematics policy in support of WHO’s Health-For-All strategy for global health development: report of the WHO group consultation on health telematics, 11–16 December, Geneva, 1997. Geneva, World Health Organization, 1998
(2) TELEMEDICINE Opportunities and developments in Member States, Report on the second global survey on eHealth, Global Observatory for eHealth series - Volume 2 - World Health Organization 2010
(3) Overview of telehealth activities in speech-language pathology, Pauline A Mashima, Charles R Doarn, DOI: 10.1089/tmj.2008.0080