The modern world is connected via technology and the amount of data, algorithms and information that travels through these channels is simply astonishing. Health care field is not taking a back seat and keeping up with the modern trends and updating its standards to reach and help as many people as possible. Telehealth is one such way in which the field of medical science is keeping up with the world.
Not long ago, people walked or took rides to see a doctor to get a mole checked, that changed when the telephones arrive and a simple sniffle was diagnosed without leaving your home, these days people use apps and even the cameras on their phones to have a live teleconference with their physicians or healthcare providers. There are also online services available for advice and consultation at any given hour such as BetterHelp and many others that are doing a marvellous job treating and booking consultations and even providing patients with therapy.
Better Help Advice by Today’s Standards
Telehealth or Telemedicine (also known as ‘e-health’ or ‘m-health’) is taking over the old-school or conventional approach to healthcare. Using digital information available online and communication technologies like mobiles, smart watches etc. we can access and keep a record of our health. These devices of technologies do not require you to be at a specific place or meet with a specific healthcare professional, you can talk to many of them and manage your healthcare from anywhere.
Consider conditions like hypertension, diabetes, or something similar that require a constant update on your end and for your doctor:
- You can have your blood pressure taken or blood sugar levels checked anywhere and send the results to your nurse or doctor for review
- Use an online date service to check your test results
- Order medication or tests and paying online
- Using your smartwatch or cellphone to monitor calories or workouts
- Monitor your heartrate
- Receive notifications on your devices about a doctor’s appointment or a test result
- Use an app or software to calculate the amount insulin you require
The possibilities are countless and modern tech developers and medical professionals are working closely to make Telehealth accessible and available to everyone. The idea is to be able to provide help anywhere and everywhere, especially:
- Health care access in rural or isolated areas
- Readily available without having to worry about official hours
- Medical Specialists and experts are available around the world
- Health care providers and patients have a direct link and no red tape
- Self-management for the patient which not only makes them more aware of their condition but keeps them up to date as to how they are doing
- People concerned about mental health can get access to treatment at their own comfort, and get the confidentiality they need
And like I said above, the imagination is the only limitation here.
Doctor to Doctor
Doctors can talk to patients and patients can access their doctors without restrictions and in case their personal physician is not available, your online health data can be referred to another physician temporarily and they can help the patient and log on their treatment on to your digital file.
Doctors talk to others to run cases by each other in the medical field all the time. In case more help is required for a certain eluding diagnosis, or a new discovery regarding an illness or even for procedural helps, medical professionals share certain case related things with one another. A simple and the most straight forward example of this will be a Radiologist sending X-rays or CT-Scan to the surgeon digitally without having to send the report on foot.
These virtual consultations or Advice system is very prudent and time saving, not to mention lifesaving in an emergency.
Personal Health Apps have been coming to the app stores on smartphones and PCs for the general public that can help both the doctor and the patient. A simple walking app or a step counter can log your physical activity, calories burned, distance covered and heartrate during the activity. These apps keep a log of activity to show you the history and how you have improved. Apps also record vital signs, schedule reminders for taking medicine and now even your ECG.
Using a remote monitoring device like a smartwatch can provide you with important information with simply lifting your wrist and looking at the screen. Modern day wearable technologies are so advance that they can be used to communicate, receive information and even use the internet without the need of a cellphone or a computer. Aside from these, there are special monitoring devices for bedridden patients like home monitoring devices for Heart rate, blood pressure etc.
Simple notifications set within these apps can help you take your meds on time as well in case you are suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s etc. Or simply if you are a busy person.
A personal health record system or PHR is something being used in many western healthcare facilities. It is a data bank that keeps a patient’s complete history, treatments, tests, procedures and anything else that is required for a medical file, is present. A doctor can simply access any information by clicking on a few buttons or a few swipes on a smartphones screen.
Not only doctors but patient can access their information as well. It can instantly show everything about you on your screen. It is particularly helpful in case you change doctors or if they are not available etc.
Emergencies can be more than tricky at times and a simple look at the PHR would give the doctor a perfect glimpse of what he/she needs to know to proceed.
Using the patient portal using the modern technologies does not require you to call the doctor’s office like in the past either. Simply open the webpage or the app and see the information you want to know. Previously done by email, the new way to coordinate between the doctor and patient or patient to the laboratory etc. is simpler. It is also more secure helps you with other services like prescription refills, receive test results and even schedule appointments.
Telehealth has just hit its true momentum and it is gaining more and more notoriety. Medical Professionals and Engineers are working closely with software companies to develop new tools and apps for patients. With the modern monitoring devices like Apple Watch, we are in a golden age of medicine.
There are a few limitations though in terms of availability of internet to access these data banks is the biggest one and there are places in the world that don’t have the best internet or no internet for that matter. Another issue is the languages available for these services and as these technological advances are being innovated and engineered in the west, so most of these are in English.