Telemedicine is a new way of providing health advice via telecommunications such as video chats and mobile applications. This health tech solution is particularly beneficial to those in hard-to-access areas, or in developing countries where there may be a shortage of accessible healthcare in a vicinity. Whilst Telemedicine has only become a truly viable option in the past decade due to technological advancements, it is fast-growing as one of the most widely used and invested in forms of Healthcare Technology.
Most likely due to the rapid creation of many Healthcare Tech terms, Telemedicine, Telehealth, mHealth, Digital Health and Health Analytics are often, and understandably, used interchangeably. In fact, Telemedicine is more accurately defined as a subset of Telehealth. Telehealth essentially encompasses all means or methods for enhancing healthcare, public health and delivery through the use of new technologies - in the case of Telemedicine, it specifically refers to circumstances where an expert or clinician is able to provide services via telecommunications.
For example, a service that provides alerts for disease outbreak is a form of Telehealth, but not Telemedicine, as it lacks the direct advice or back-and-forth between a client and provider through telecommunication.
The Benefits of Telemedicine
Telemedicine, unlike other Healthcare technologies such as Cloud Computing, has almost complete consensus that it is a net positive for the world of healthcare. Just a few key benefits of Telemedicine services on a global scale include:
Lowered costs of clinical advice due to reduced waiting times
Convenient care for those that may be unable to travel to treatment centres
Accessible care for patients in disaster zones, where the risk of providing care could endanger doctors and nurses
Increased patient engagement and responsiveness due to ease of access
Easier to follow up with patients, resulting in a better quality of care
That being said, Telemedicine does still require technical training, and access to more basic technology such as WiFi access, smart phones, or video chat. It also runs the risk of potentially inaccurate advice without direct patient-doctor contact.