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Telemedicine
At its most basic, telemedicine is a way to practice medicine and care for patients remotely. New technology allows doctors to consult with and treat patients with HIPAA-compliant tools while not physically present with the patient. Telemedicine is considered a modern concept but it actually began more than five decades ago when hospitals experimented with ways to reach patients in remote areas.

How Telemedicine Works
Telemedicine can involve many techniques but the most basic is a video call using HIPAA-compliant video conferencing technology. This is known as interactive medicine. More advanced telemedicine can even involve portable medical devices like vital sign monitors, ECGs, ultrasound machines, and high-resolution cameras. Telemedicine can also include “store and forward” which allows medical providers to share patient information with other practitioners in another location such as MRI scans and other test results.

Applications for Telemedicine
Telemedicine isn’t able to replace traditional medicine in all forms of care but it does have many uses including follow-up care, chronic condition management like diabetes and high blood pressure, specialist consultations, and medication management. It can be used by primary care physicians to check on a patient after a stay in the hospital, allow a child with the flu to see a doctor without leaving home, or help seniors with limited mobility see a doctor, refill prescriptions, and manage their care.

Telemedicine offers immediate care for a wide variety of minor to moderate conditions that may be urgent, such as allergies, illness, UTIs, and chronic disease management. While originally used to treat remote patients, today telemedicine offers convenient care that usually gives patients 24/7 access to an on-call doctor. It has the potential to not only improve health outcomes for patients and increase physician accessibility but also reduce healthcare costs. As the popularity of telemedicine continues to grow, its applications have also increased. It’s used not only by primary care physicians but also specialists like cardiologists and dermatologists to improve quality and access of care.

Benefits of Telemedicine
Telemedicine has introduced many benefits to traditional medicine for patients and providers. Patients can see a doctor without time away from work, there is no travel necessary, and no exposure to contagious patients. Telemedicine has also been shown to reduce missed appointments and improve health outcomes and medication compliance. For patients with reduced mobility and those living in rural areas, telemedicine can make medical care more accessible and more affordable.