Advances in technology are improving patient care across many medical facilities. Telehealth is the use of telecommunication technology to enhance medical care for doctors and patients. The use of this technology can improve accessibility, convenience, and quality of care for patients with ongoing medical conditions. There are three main ways telecommunication technology is used in healthcare.
Remote Patient Monitoring
Remote patient monitoring (RMP) uses digital technology to collect patient data remotely. A patient using RPM can have important vital signs like blood pressure, heart rate, glucose levels, and blood oxygen levels measured at home with the results sent wirelessly to physicians.
RPM can allow patients with chronic conditions to avoid full time care and unnecessary hospital readmissions. Early detection of dangerous symptoms can allow doctors to prescribe changes in care that will intercept serious conditions before emergency care is needed. These developments are especially helpful in improving the quality of healthcare for the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions.
Electronic Medical Records
The use of technology to create electronic medical records (EMR) works to make a patient’s medical history easily accessible across the medical community. EMRs allow physicians to track data over time through multiple facilities. This technology allows each provider within a medical team to access the same information.
Most patients visit different doctors throughout the course of their life. It may be necessary for a patient to see a general practitioner, specialists, mental professionals, and other caregivers. EMRs allow each of these professionals to access the full medical history of the patient for a clear picture of overall health. This technology allows for more precise diagnosis and eliminates the occurrence of crossover visits for the same condition.
Video communication allows real-time communication between patients and caregivers. This technology is especially important in rural areas or for patients without dependable transportation. Video conferencing can allow patients to connect remotely with doctors, ER doctors to connect remotely with specialists, and provide ongoing education to students and practicing physicians.
The use of video communication combined with RPM can allow patients to replace some in-office visits with in-home telehealth visits. This is expected to be especially helpful for homebound patients and patients who frequently miss appointments. The use of video communication also shows promise in the areas of mental health and substance abuse by providing immediate access to professionals in a comfortable location for patients who are reluctant to attend in-person visits.
The use of technology in the medical profession improves care for patients and convenience for doctors. This type of care eliminates barriers created by distance and will even allow patients to seek the care of physicians in other states.