How Telemedicine Can Result in Higher Satisfaction and Improved Health Care
Posted Jun 20 2012 2:08pm
Some people live in areas where there are no specialists around, while some need to wait for outrageously long hours before they can see a dermatologist. But with the development of ‘video consults’ with dermatologists, studies have shown that more patients have improved their skin health with this type of ‘teleconsultation.’
Teleconsultation is widely used in the military, but now it has gained footing with the general public. Many patients have claimed to be satisfied with the diagnosis and the treatment, and these remarks are slowly paving the ways for the mainstream use of telemedicine.
What’s great about this interactive consult is that the patients are given immediate diagnoses and treatments. A faulty diagnosis can result if diagnosis and treatment are delayed due to distance or timing. That coud cause an erroneous treatment regimen, and put an unnecessary financial strain on the part of the patient.
Although the use of telemedicine is not that mainstream, it has shown promise in a study conducted by Dr. April Armstrong of the University of California – Davis School of Medicine. The result showed that 70% of the participants were ‘happier’ with the results of their teleconferences with trained dermatologists. Best of all, it helped several patients discontinue taking medications which were prescribed to them, but were not helpful for their condition.
The requirements for a telemedicine consultation are not that expensive. Most clinics have computers; the only addition needed is a high-definition web camera for the dermatologist. HD cameras can also zoom in so the doctor from the other end of the conversation can see the problem up close, as if he’s directly staring at the lesion with a magnifying glass. This gives them a better chance of making the right diagnosis and prescribing the correct treatment for the patient’s condition.
Perhaps the best news about telemedicine is that many insurance companies will cover the expenses incurred for a telemedicine conference. Of course, this will result in a lesser financial burden for the patient.
Unfortunately not a lot of doctors were trained with the art of diagnosing and treating with the use of a webcam. And while telemedicine is beneficial for people in far-flung places, nothing beats consulting with a doctor face-to-face.
But with the positive results of the study, many medical schools are pushing for the incorporation of ‘telemedicine’ in their curriculums. Even practicing doctors can learn about the art of telemedicine by enrolling in related continuing education courses.