When you picture telemedicine, what is it that you imagine? Maybe you envision doctors at remote locations able to look at the medical records of patients through a secure portal. Or maybe you think about doctors in rural areas providing care to their patients remotely when they are unable to travel due to physical limitations. Either way, telemedicine has taken off in popularity in recent years and healthcare experts suggest that telemedicine will keep growing at an average annual rate of 23% for the next few years.
While these visions of telemedicine may be accurate, experts also predict that telemedicine will go beyond the doctor’s office, taking roles like home health management or even telemonitoring in the future. This telemedicine expansion will require both doctors and healthcare professionals to change their roles to meet these new telehealth needs, including the advancements in technology that telemedicine brings with it. In 2022 telemedicine experts predict that telemedicine will be used for more home-related visits, diagnostics, telemonitoring, virtual nurse consultations, telerehabilitation and for devices like telewheelchairs.
Telemedicine impacts a number of aspects of healthcare from how patients access care to what types of medical services are provided by healthcare providers. Using telephones, tablets or other mobile devices patients can easily contact a doctor through teleconsultations instead of scheduling an appointment to visit the doctor in person. Telemedicine teleconsultations can be used by healthcare providers for any number of services, including conducting follow-ups on patients who have previously visited with a physician or providing telerehabilitation for patients recovering from physical therapy at home.
Beyond teleconsultations, telemonitoring is quickly growing as well. Using computer systems and sensors, telemonitoring allows healthcare professionals to remotely monitor vital signs like blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen level and weight instead of having someone come into an office or hospital. This telemonitoring eliminates the need for certain types of testing that would otherwise require patients to travel to a healthcare location.
For telerehabilitation, telemedicine is allowing healthcare providers to increase the number of physical therapy or telerehabilitation visits that are allowed for certain patients. Telerehabilitation allows therapists not only to monitor the patient’s status but also provide guidance during exercises when they are in another location. The use of telerehabilitation is increasing exponentially in areas with limited access to physical therapy locations or in areas where transportation can serve as an ongoing barrier to receiving care.
And while telehealth technology has been associated with rural areas and generally out-of-the way places for long distances, telemedicine is having a major impact on healthcare in the United States. Telemedicine is used by approximately 3 out of 5 U.S healthcare providers, which equates to telemedicine services being used for over 40 million telehealth patient visits each year.
In 2022 telemedicine experts predict that telemedicine will become even more widespread as telehealth technology helps expand how telemedicine impacts healthcare delivery across the board. With the use of sensors, mobile devices and virtual assistants, telehealth monitoring, telerehabilitation and telemonitoring are becoming easier than ever for patients, decreasing wait times for appointments and increasing telehealth access. As telemedicine continues to expand into healthcare, telemedicine experts expect that telemedicine will become a daily part of everyday healthcare.
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