What is Telemedicine?
Any type of medical monitoring involving a clinical diagnosis that is delivered with technology can fit within the scope of telemedicine.
For many healthcare practitioners, telemedicine is part of the future of the medical industry. Video conferences allow doctors, medical staff, and patients to efficiently and accurately transmit necessary information. This includes x-ray data, films, photos and remote patient monitoring.
Telemedicine is rapidly becoming the standard for diagnosing minute health issues, such as colds, flu, and infections, as well as handling patients with more serious long-term health conditions.
Telemedicine in Healthcare
According to the American Telemedicine Association, telemedicine is now being used in the majority of hospitals. In 2016, the number of telemedicine consultations was around 20 million. At the current pace, by 2020 there will be around 160 million. In fact, around one-third of all employer groups already factor telemedicine into their group planning.
Telemedicine has allowed physicians to now practice medicine across multiple states, should they meet the eligibility qualifications. The legal regulations have already been passed within the United States.
What Does this Mean?
As telemedicine practice standards, regulations and requirements are put into effect, doctors can now establish patient-physician relationships without in-person meetings. This is a huge step in the healthcare industry, as the issue of patient mobility had not been properly addressed in the past. Additionally, insurance companies are maneuvering to usher in telemedicine into their blanket of covered medical procedures and practices.
Legally speaking, telemedicine will have the same level of liability as face to face meetings with your physician. The standards of care with telemedicine consultations and diagnoses are held to the same level as any other doctor’s appointment. Although this is still a policy that isn’t cut and dry across all states in the U.S.
Of course, telemedicine is a relatively new form of practice, and the methods used are not foolproof. Miscommunication can occur, and diagnoses can go awry when the physician is examining a patient via video conference and not in person. Any malfunctions or problems arising from equipment could cause an error of judgment, or otherwise, mask signs of disease that could easily be noticed with an in-person appointment.
In regards to medical malpractice and telemedicine, we are still working out the issues.
None the less, these issues will be addressed in due time. Telemedicine is an emerging field, one that will ultimately be perfected as it makes a path in the future of healthcare.