Usually in the health industry, the terms of "telehealth" and "telemedicine" are used as if they were synonymous, when technically speaking telemedicine is part of telehealth, since this is a collection of methods or means to serve the healthcare sector and health education, while telemedicine refers specifically to clinical services1,2.
Using telecommunications technology is how telemedicine enables healthcare professionals to treat, diagnose and evaluate patients over a long distance. In the last decade and with the topic of COVID-19, telemedicine has suffered a great growth driven by a greater adoption of it, the increase in the incidence of chronic diseases, the geriatric population, a shortage of doctors and government initiatives. For example, in countries like the United States, telemedicine is an important part of the healthcare infrastructure due to the lack of face-to-face availability of many medical professionals2,3.
The telemedicine market is segmented, depending on the types of healthcare offered and by regions. This global market was valued at $25 million USD in 2016, while it is expected to reach $113.1 million USD by 20254.
The benefits of the use of telemedicine relapse in the cost savings of the maintenance of physical infrastructures, the catalog and the access to specialist consultations are expanded. In addition, there is an increase in the doctor-patient connection, as the relationship is strengthened by empowering patients to manage the care they receive, there is also another added benefit, the quality of patient care is improved4.
Even with the economic projections and the benefits of using telemedicine, there is a resistance to change on the part of patients to use this type of service. This occurs due to ignorance of various situations such as: the existence of applications for contact with doctors, ambiguities in insurance contracts, uncertainty of the profile of doctors and the psychological affinity that one has for face-to-face visits to the doctor to obtain tranquility.
Telemedicine is used in various fields of medicine, which allow experts in the area to make consultations remotely. The most prominent fields are3,5:
●Teleoncology, for the cancer patients are linked with their respective medical file and everything that carries, with oncologist experts who evaluate the case individually and then provide genetic counseling, palliative care, assistance, and treatment reviews or give transfer indications.
●Teledermatology, which, based on photographs of the body, the patient can receive a remote diagnosis and thus prevent or treat any skin condition.
●Telepsychology and Telepsychiatry, allows experts from both areas to provide treatments to patients, since physical examinations are not required in most cases as in other areas.
●Teleradiology, the interpretation of an X-ray in a hospital in person can take hours of waiting. Using telemedicine, experts can remotely deliver interpretations to patients' conditions.
Originally, the telemedicine service was for patients in hard-to-reach areas, but today it is a tool for a more convenient medical service. Traditional health care processes are being transformed through telemedicine applications. Currently, medical consultations can be made immediate at any time thanks to these applications, as there are those with 24/7 support3,5.
The concept of an application in telemedicine can be considered authentic, safe, and simple, as telemedicine applications save the time it would take to visit a clinic and minimize the risk of exposure.
On the other hand, there is increased interactivity with the healthcare industry, as doctors and patients can express their concerns without limitations.
The trend in the telemedicine market has focused on two fundamental factors: 1) Simplification of the software-hardware relationship to obtain information and 2) reduce the dependence on economic reimbursement models. For this, there has been international collaboration, as a positive consequence of the current pandemic and has allowed the creation and regulation of mobile health (applications), virtual medical centers and remote care clinics with new services6.
With the innovation of telemedicine, doctors and hospitals can seamlessly connect and offer medical service to patients remotely. Mobile apps are filling the gaps between healthcare providers and patients around the world2.
As you read in this blog, telemedicine has enormous potential applications, it is then that we ask to you the question, dear readers: Will telemedicine become a standard form of healthcare? What do you think?
- Stephany, H. A. (2020). Trends in Medicine: Virtual Visits, Now and in the Future.
- Abbasi-Feinberg, F. (2020). Telemedicine Coding and Reimbursement-Current and Future Trends. Sleep medicine clinics.
- Mindbowser Infosolutions, Mindbowser, Top 10 Telemedicine Apps That Are Trasforming The Healthcare Industry. (02/09/2020) - Mindbowser
- Joe Jarpaz, Forbes,5 reasons why telehealth here to stay (COVID-19 and beyond). (02/09/2020) - Forbes
- Chris Kissell, The DO, 5 trends emerging in telemedicine in 2020. (02/09/2020) - The Do
- Karim Nader, el Hospital, Tendencias actuales en Telemedicina. (02/09/2020) - El Hospital