Telemedicine, the use of video conferencing in healthcare, allows better care for those located in remote locations or have mobility issues. Specialist monitoring their patients from a remote hospital saves time, money and resources, and most of all is convenient.
Two areas that have been using these telemedicine solutions since 2008 are wound care specialists and dermatology. Other specialties that are beginning to see the benefits of telemedicine are prosthetics, bariatrics, pulmonology, infections disease, diabetes and prosthetics. Psychiatry is the latest department that has begun implementation. Doctors, who once had to go to a basement room to use the video conferencing system that was in place, are now able to quickly and easily connect from equipment in their office. It is logistically integrated into their daily routine and practice.
An example of how telemedicine is improving the lives of so many can be seen at the Altru Clinic in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Since 2008 they have had 1,238 outpatient visits conducted via telemedicine. One patient, with a serious leg wound, lived 120 miles from Grand Forks. After an initial visit to Altru Clinic in Grand Forks to determine if he needed surgery, it was decided that he would conduct his 5 outpatient appointments via telemedicine from his hometown clinic. This saved the patients family countless hours of driving, and the discomfort of the patient for having to travel with a wound injury. It generated revenue for the patient’s local clinic by being able to keep services like lab work local, as well as being able to keep a patient there rather than sending him off. An additional benefit here is to have even more frequent check-ups, which could allow a costly wound dressing to be traded sooner with a less-costly and more appropriate one.
Since the patient is at a local clinic, they are familiar with where they are, and the nurse that present the case at the telemedicine site is able to increase the patient’s comfort level. Through these techniques, many communication problems are able to be solved and the care-planning is much smoother. With this system comes an incorporated digital medical record which stores images allowing specialists to track progress.