Gina Tripicchio is a nutrition doctoral student interested in childhood obesity intervention, school-based wellness programs and technology integration for health promotion.
Everyone has felt the dread of the unknown while waiting in the doctor’s office. How long will this take? How much will this cost? The new movement of Telemedicine could be a solution to the expenses and inefficiencies of the current healthcare system.
Telemedicine (also called TeleHealth, Connected Health, TeleNursing) is the use of technology to deliver healthcare remotely. Patients save time commuting and can choose providers based on comfort or experience, rather than location. Costs are much lower, averaging $40 per visit.
The ubiquitous nature of technology, of course, applies to telemedicine. Services are available from computers, tablets and smartphones, making care-on-the-go truly possible. The potential to reach rural communities and developing countries where care is often most needed is also exciting.
Telemedicine services are ideal for common illness such as allergies, respiratory infections, pink eye, and minor injuries. Doctors can diagnose and prescribe medications, and insurance companies are rapidly providing telemedicine options for their clients. Patients can access doctors for chronic disease management and preventative care, reducing overall healthcare costs and reserving emergency rooms for urgent medical needs.
Challenges do exist, such as scheduling virtual patients, reimbursing practitioners and ensuring patient confidentiality. As with any novel approach to care, there are physicians who support the use of telemedicine and those who feel that losing face-to-face contact will disrupt the valuable relationship between physicians and their patients.
As people continue to rely on technology more, will telemedicine become the prescription for the ailments of the current healthcare system?