Telemedicine is a new twist on the old-fashioned house call. Physicians like it because they can ‘see’ their patients to make a better diagnosis than they can over the phone. As for the patients, they like being able to stay home instead of battling to get to an office across town or hours away.
Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Kansas City has begun to utilize telemedicine to treat vets from their own home. With the help of nearly 2,000 mobile care centers, doctors from tens of miles away can conduct a physical exam with the help of remote connections for stethoscopes and other medical tools and see the results on a screen in front of them. Specially trained techs or nurses travel out in the field to perform simple procedures or tests that at one time necessitated the need for travel to a VA office and often a night at a hotel.
The cost associated with telemedicine is steep, $50,000 for each mobile medical cart, but those who support the technology-driven idea feel that investing this much is more than worth it for its convenience and peace of mind. In addition, telemedicine saves the Veterans Affairs Medical group that much in the cost of transportation and lodging for VA patients who have to come to the medical center.
The benefits of telemedicine make it one of the most important innovations of the 21st century. In a way it takes the field of medicine back to its roots where doctors traveled across the country with their medicine bags in tow, stopping in small towns and offering medical treatment to people who otherwise would never see a doctor. In a world that is moving too quickly to take the time out for doctor’s appointments, telemedicine can mean catching an illness or disease early enough to treat with a favorable prognosis.