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Telemedicine—A New Direction in Healthcare

Maha Ahmed Maha Ahmed
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Telemedicine refers to the use of information technology and telecommunication for the provision of medical care. It involves transfer of medical information over the phone or internet with the intention of providing consulting and in some cases remote examination of patients or medical procedures.

The complexity of telemedicine could vary from as simple as talking over a telephone with your colleague to using satellite video-conferencing for a real time assessment of medical treatment options across countries. The advent of telemedicine began with the revolution in telecommunications that was result of the information technology boom of the 21st century.

What are the advantages of telemedicine?

For those patients residing inaccessible and Accident & Emergency remote regions, telemedicine is a huge blessing. Patients can receive care from specialist doctors who are far off without the need to travel. The recent increase in portable communication devices such as the tablets and mobiles allows doctors to share information and patient data in order to get their inputs. The need to remotely access patient data as well monitor patient medication schedule can give doctors the freedom to provide better healthcare at a reduced cost. Also, telemedicine will facilitate better knowledge transfer between epert belonging to the same domain.

What are the disadvantages of telemedicine?

One of the major downfall of telemedicine involves the cost of managing patient data in a cloud environment or the need to store patient data on a relevant server, cost involved for acquiring the services of the appropriate telecommunication service provider. Also, another important cost factor would be the investment involved in training technical personnel for use of telecommunication devices.

Vitual treatment brings along with decrease human interaction. Decreased face-to-face interaction may increase the chances of making an error in the physical absence of a trained medical professional. There is also a chance of risk wherein secure medical information may get compromised during the process of electronic storage and transmission. Compromised quality of transmitted medical images or patient records may pose a decrease in clinical efficiency and compromise the quality of healthcare. The absence of clear healthcare regulations governing this domain as well as the difficulty encountered in the event of claiming insurance cover is a drawback of telemedicine.

The Promise

Despite this, the promise which telemedicine brings with it is unparalleled. It opens new avenues in patient care and offers hope of better treatment for those people who would otherwise fail to have access to even the most basic of medical attention.