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It’s something city-dwellers take for granted – easy access to healthcare.
You might get sick, injured, or require multiple checkups, but it’s not as intimidating when there’s dozes of clinics and hospitals to choose from, accessible by car, public transit or – in an emergency – an ambulance. For those who live in remote areas, however, accessing healthcare can be a nightmare.
Imagine a situation where even a simple doctor’s appointment might mean boarding a bus to an office hours away. Or worse, what happens if you need to visit a specialist, and the best care you can receive is only accessible via an airplane? This is a reality for many rural and remote residents.
There’s more to the problem than simply geography. Long-distance transit can be prohibitively expensive, making managing health appropriately unaffordable for many living outside urban hubs. Even if there is transport, if it’s too expensive to use, what is someone to do who needs to access medical care?
And it’s not just the patients who struggle with access — doctors also have to consider the obstacles geography offers. Making their rounds to remote patients for simple checkups can be inordinately time (and energy) consuming.
That’s where telemedicine is really showing its true value. By making consultation with healthcare professionals available from anywhere, people living off the beaten path are finding new access, and have a better chance at proper care.
Here’s the top four ways telemedicine is working to improve the lives of both patients and doctors:
Convenience for Doctor’s Making Their Rounds
Being a doctor generally comes with a comfortable income to say the least. But the salary has to be earned, and that involves hard work and long hours.
While it may seem the days of making house calls are long in the past, in rural areas (especially for less mobile patients), doctors “making the rounds” to remote areas is an inevitable part of the job. This can involve lots of travel, which takes up time and prevents the efficient seeing of patients.
Even within hospitals, seeing every patient for what can amount to a minor checkup takes its toll on healthcare professionals. That’s where telemedicine shows its value.
Making rounds can take place via video conferencing without a doctor physically having to be present. The can expedite checkups, help doctors see more patients, and reduce travel time and expenses. It is an essential tool for keeping doctors fresh and efficient.
Managing Chronic Health Issues
Anyone with chronic health issues knows the value of a readily available doctor.
Whether it’s a matter of reporting new developments in the condition or simply a routine checkup, people with chronic health concerns require a heightened level of healthcare access. Of course, being remote introduces significant obstacles.
Telemedicine offers a solution. Using video conferencing to connect doctors face-to-face with patients removes the barriers that geography creates. And, while telephones and other audio-only communication can still connect patients and professionals, it lacks the depth of information exchange that video offers.
When a patient with a chronic condition is describing their progress or response to medication, it behooves doctors to gauge their reaction in a more detailed way than a voice only could offer. Glassy eyes or grimaces of pain might show a patient’s true feelings in the way a constructed, stoic response might fail to.
Video conferencing facilitates the kind of frequent check-ins that chronic health issues necessitate. In addition, it offers a more thorough exchange of information which permits proper medical advice and recommendations.
Connecting and Consulting With Specialists
You don’t have to live in extremely remote locations to lack access to a specialist for your condition.
Even for those that live outside of major urban centers, meeting with healthcare professionals that specialize in a particular area of medicine can be challenging. As medicine becomes more fragmented and general practitioners less relied on, it’s important to have specialists nearby to consult about health issues.
When they’re not nearby, access is available through video conferencing. Whether it’s simply a second opinion or a primary consultation, the use of telemedicine means patients can receive clear instructions from experts in the field to best manage their health.
And, while geography may limit your ability to reach industry-leading professionals in person, no compromise needs to be made with video conferencing. Everyone worries about whether they’re talking to the most qualified professional – especially when it concerns their health.
When you get a recommendation, or do research to find the best specialist in the field you require, now you can speak to them without obstacle, and get the most qualified advice.
Mental Health Care and Checkups
There is a rise in the interest and care for people requiring mental health assistance – and that’s great news.
It can often be an internal, private struggle for people suffering with mental health issues such as depression, even when talking and sharing with others is often an effective treatment. This problem is compounded for people in remote areas, who don’t have access to mental health service.
Telemedicine and video conferencing work extremely effectively for treating mental health. While physical issues can be diagnosed and a patient reassured remotely, we aren’t yet at a point where the actual injury or illness can be treated directly. But with mental health, the simple act of talking face-to-face with someone can be effective care.
No matter what type of healthcare is required, people in remote areas stand to benefit enormously from telemedicine provided through video conferencing.
A face-to-face consultation with a doctor provides more information to both parties than a phone call could on its own. And for patients with chronic health issues who have to frequently check in with a healthcare professional, video conferencing allows for a cost-effective solution.
Of all treatment, though, telemedicine might most effectively help people coping with mental health issues. Because the simple act of speaking with someone face-to-face is treatment in-and-of itself, video conferencing is the medium through which treatment can occur – not merely diagnosis.
By connecting remote patients with doctors and specialists, video conferencing is ushering in a health care revolution