By Sean Hopwood, CEO, Day Interpreting.
Scheduling an appointment with your doctor is usually the first thing you do when you’re feeling a little under the weather or have some questions about your health. But as technology keeps advancing, your options for healthcare are rapidly expanding. One of these options includes telemedicine, which enables you to get medical advice when you need it most, all without leaving the comfort of your home.
What Exactly is Telemedicine?
As the name implies, telemedicine is a way for patients to communicate with their healthcare practitioners with tech instead of physically popping into the doctor’s room or hospital for a consultation.
Telemedicine enables you to discuss your symptoms and questions with your doctor using video, web-based platforms or apps, and email. In turn, your doctor can send you a diagnosis, discuss your treatment options with you, and send over a prescription, all without the need for physical interaction.
Telemedicine is nothing new, but the name is. In fact, healthcare providers have been using this care method since the 1950s, when telemedicine was offered through landline telephones. Thankfully, technological advances have made it possible for healthcare providers and their patients to use various options for care these days. These options include online portals, apps managed by companies that offer telemedicine, and video software that even facilitates video remote interpreting services.
How Does Telemedicine Work?
Telemedicine isn’t suitable for emergencies like broken bones, lacerations, strokes, or heart attacks. Anything that requires immediate physical care should always be handled in person, at a clinic, or hospital. But telemedicine is an excellent supplemental care solution for issues you’d usually turn to your GP for.
A quick virtual consultation with your healthcare provider can help patients get the preventative care they need when physical consultations aren’t possible or not entirely necessary. Telemedicine is also helpful for other applications, including virtual dermatology and psychotherapy.
Is Telemedicine the Same as Telehealth?
Although the terms telemedicine and telehealth are often used interchangeably, there’s a considerable difference between the two. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), telemedicine allows patients to “heal from a distance” and receive healthcare services without physically visiting their physicians.
Health IT states that telehealth comprises the use of electronic data and telecommunications technology to promote and support remote clinical healthcare and professional health education and public health.
Unlike telemedicine, telehealth is not a virtual healthcare service but rather a way to improve patient care and education opportunities for physicians.