Telemedicine - 2 Day Series: Day 1

08 February, 2018

"Watson, come here I want you" said Alexander Graham Bell on March 20, 1876, when he inadvertently spilt battery acid on himself, while making the world's first telephone call. Little did Bell realize that this was indeed the world's first telemedical consultation. We have come a long way since then as the increase in the cost of medicine, the long wait for a doctor's appointment, and the treatment of patients by medical practitioners has led many consumers to find their physician a mouse-click away.

Telemedicine, the predecessor of the use of technology has been practiced since the invention of the telephone, which gave doctors and patients the initial ability to give and receive medical advice over long distances. However, modern telemedicine was first implemented in the 1950s. At that time, the National Institute of Mental Health established a closed-circuit television system between state hospitals in Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota.
 
MEANING
Telemedicine is the delivery of health-related services and information via telecommunications technologies like the telephone and internet in order to keep the patients in touch with their doctors over the telephone or by written letters and includes services such as query-based platforms, video consultations, and even WhatsApp consultations.
 
OBJECTIVE OF TELEMEDICINE
  • Eliminate distance barriers and improve access to quality health
  • In emergency and critical care situations where moving a patient may be undesirable and/or not feasible;
  • Facilitate patients and rural practitioners’ access to specialist health services and support;
  • Lessen the inconvenience and/or cost of patient transfers;
  • Reduce unnecessary travel time for health professionals;
  • Video conferencing for diagnosing or educational purposes;
  • Remote supervision of physicians' assistants or nurses can be done by means of telecommunications;

CHALLENGES
  • Consent, confidentiality and Standards of treatment given to the patients
  • Credentialing, licensure and liability of doctors;
  • Reimbursement for services and cost effectiveness