With the unprecedented pandemic hitting the world, everything has changed. COVID 19 has brought quarantine or self-isolation that has transformed our lives into a virtual setting. Be it schooling, office work or even seeking medical advice and treatment, everything is done virtually or in an online mode.
Telemedicine is the practice of evaluation, diagnosis, consultation and treatment through telecommunications technology. Through Telemedicine, doctors and physicians can prescribe treatment and even send medicines to suffering patients without actually meeting them or examining them closely.
Generally, a video call is a setup for the virtual assessment of the patient and medication is followed based on the description of symptoms from the patient. Telemedicine is considered a part of Telehealth or E-health. While Telemedicine is more specific to clinical services only, Telehealth incorporates a broader range of health services.
The idea of Telemedicine came into existence with the augment of telecommunications technology. It means sending messages or information over a distance in the form of electromagnetic signals. In the past, the early forms of telecommunications technology involved the usage of the telegraph, radio, and telephone.
Telemedicine is typically more employed by patients who stay in remote areas and cannot physically reach the doctor for consultation due to travel difficulties. Telemedicine has also proved beneficial in alleviating pressure, reducing waiting times and meeting the shortage of medical professionals.
Telemedicine has picked up the pace and is in preference in many countries not just as part of the prevention of the pandemic spread but also as it is more convenient and feasible for both the patient and the doctor.
Health services under Telemedicine
Telemedicine can be exercised for a wide variety of health and care services. Let’s look at the list of common conditions that a doctor can consult and treat quickly via telemedicine services:
Telemedicine services are employed by specialist doctors as well. A surgeon can use Telemedicine for post-operation check-ins with the patient to check for infections post-surgery. A gynaecologist may use a live telemedicine solution to deliver birth control counselling. An endocrinologist can go live on video chats with patients to discuss recent lab results and answer their queries.
Benefits of Telemedicine
Although Telemedicine came into existence during the pandemic to avoid its spread, it has gained much popularity as it makes it easier for patients to access treatment time and anywhere. Apart from making medical care easily accessible to patients, Telemedicine provides additional benefits such as;
Telemedicine is the future of healthcare, with medical professionals assessing patients rapidly without risking their own or others’ health by physically meeting, especially with ones who may be contagious. While it will take time to fully implement the necessary technology and processes for Telemedicine to be in full service, it is definitely becoming more prominent in the healthcare industry of many countries across the world, even after the pandemic period.
How to Seek Medical Treatment Remotely?
Generally, depending on where you live and your health condition, you can access telemedicine services. However, since the pandemic, telemedicine services have been available and accessible to anyone residing anywhere. To avail of telemedicine services, you first need to check with your doctor or healthcare provider about their procedure to register for the telemedicine services. By contacting them by telephone or email, you can book a remote or virtual appointment and also pay for the services you are availing yourself online itself.
Suppose you opt for telemedicine services and have private health coverage. In that case, you should verify with your health insurance provider to see which telemedicine treatment is covered in your plan and how you can claim back the costs.
Telemedicine and insurance
Telemedicine is a part of insurance plans and claim settlements based on health insurance policy coverage. The idea behind insurance companies offering telemedicine services coverage is to align with technology to provide for patient continuity care, diagnosis and follow up over any digital channel, mainly due to the pandemic scare. It is recommended to include Telemedicine services as part of your health insurance plan to reduce costs and specially to avail such online services in the changing times. Health care insurance covers Telemedicine, and all policies that provide a claim for OPD consultation expenses will now also cover telemedicine consultation service as part of the claim settlement of their policies.
The Medical Council of India issued ‘Tele Medicine practice guidelines’ on the 25th of March 2020, enabling registered Medical Practitioners to provide Healthcare using Telemedicine. These guidelines shall comply and be amended from time to time.
Though the pandemic has promoted telemedicine services, with the advancement of technology and the adoption & growth of Telemedicine, it has become a popularly employed choice of health services.
Telemedicine services are expected to develop further, and an increase in access to the services will be widely seen as the benefits become more prominently understood.
In-person appointments and consultations will remain a significant part of diagnosis and care for different conditions. Still, in today’s changing times, telemedicine services have undoubtedly become a vital part of the healthcare industry.
FAQs – Frequently asked questions.
Let’s take a look at some frequent queries on What is Telemedicine? How to Seek Medical Treatment Remotely?
Q1: Is Telemedicine the best way to provide health care?
Yes, but for some situations or patient conditions only. It is a better option that saves time, money and effort for the health care provider and the patient.
Q2: Are there any barriers to Telemedicine?
Yes, non-clarity in the law towards Telemedicine, technology equipment or implementation cost, and shared understanding of the telemedicine consultation technology are a few common barriers to the service.
Q3: Does Telemedicine include patient monitoring as well?
Yes, Telemedicine includes all remote communication for health care like interactive medicine, remote patient monitoring and storing data like blood pressure or blood sugar levels of a patient.
Q4: Does health insurance pay for telemedicine services?
Yes, depending on your health insurance plan, your insurance provider will give coverage for telemedicine services availed.