Telemedicine involves using telecommunication technology to deliver healthcare services to people remotely. While it’s not an entirely new concept, its use has picked up increasingly with the development of better technology and telemedicine software, in addition to better internet connectivity. The fact that an increasingly large number of people now have access to such technology has also helped increase the use of telemedicine in modern society.
During the coronavirus pandemic, telemedicine has proved to be more useful than ever because it’s a great way to provide care to those who need it while also adhering to social distancing measures.
Telemedicine and telehealth use most of the same technology and software, however, the focus of telemedicine is a little narrower. Telehealth may use it for general health purposes like alerting the public about a new virus outbreak. Telemedicine on the other hand serves the specific purpose of providing clinical care to patients.
Telemedicine software usually aims to connect patients with their doctors or healthcare providers with each other. The main purpose of telemedicine software solutions is to provide healthcare from a distance conveniently. This saves patients the time and money they would otherwise spend to travel to a doctor to get treatment.
With appropriate telemedicine software, healthcare providers can prescribe medicines, do consultations about injuries, and diagnose illnesses without having to meet the patient in-person. Even consultations through phone calls count as telemedicine. This type of telemedicine has been in existence for ages.
However, telemedicine can be most effective if the physician can actually see the patient, and visually diagnose a condition. This is why the best telemedicine software and devices aim to connect the patient and physician visually, ideally via 2-way video, but prerecorded videos and photographs also work.
What Equipment Do You Need for Telemedicine?
Most people have access to basic telecommunication technology like phones, computers and the internet, but telemedicine requires equipment apart from just those things. A healthcare provider may need to get the following to get started with telemedicine.
1. Telemedicine Carts
Telemedicine carts provide physicians with some much-needed mobility as well as storage space to carry equipment such as computer screens, cameras, keyboards, and other medical devices. More complex telemedicine solutions and part of larger systems almost see telemedicine carts as a necessity. This piece of equipment can often look like a standing work desk with attached computer monitors and wheels at the bottom for ease in maneuvering.
These carts can be wheeled from room to room whenever the need arises. While these carts are usually present in hospitals and large healthcare systems, physicians may prefer to have one at home for greater convenience and efficiency.
2. Digital Camera
To be visually connected, it’s imperative to have a digital camera or a webcam so you can easily partake in video conferencing with patients or with other physicians. If you get a high-end camera that guarantees a high-resolution display, it will allow for clearer video capture.
Some medical tools may also have small integrated cameras in them that take highly detailed photos of body parts, both internal and external. However, this kind of telemedicine equipment tends to be very expensive and is therefore often shared between telemedicine healthcare providers.
3. Telemedicine Kiosks
More and more clinics and companies are beginning to add telemedicine kiosks on-site that are stocked with telemedicine equipment and are mobile in case they are needed for a telemedicine visit. But since these kiosks are quite expensive, only large companies and clinics purchase them to extend healthcare services to employees and customers.
4. Telemedicine Kits
A telemedicine kit looks essentially like a briefcase, but it has all the necessary equipment fitted inside it for medical emergencies. They often contain a computer screen, camera and other simple mobile medical devices.
5. Telemedicine Software
Telemedicine solutions are slowly but surely moving to the cloud; however, some providers still purchase a software system that needs to be installed on the medical practice’s computers. The software is checked for compatibility with the systems first and then appropriately installed. Some software solutions may require additional components like a hard drive for storage or even servers.
Some healthcare providers may purchase different telemedicine solutions software for different objectives. For example, one software may be for live video conferencing, another may be for collecting, storing and saving patient data. However, the best telemedicine solution would be an integrated one so that only one software is required for all of the healthcare provider’s professional needs.
Mobile Medical Equipment
Mobile medical devices or equipment can be used by either patients or medical healthcare providers for capturing and sending data to professionals at different locations. An example could be a heart patient who has been discharged post-surgery or even post-heart attack and needs monitoring. A portable ECG machine may be needed to track the patient’s heart activity.
Some telemedicine solutions require patients to also purchase some mobile medical equipment that they are going to need for their home, so they can be remotely monitored. Some providers may even offer packages to the patients to help them get the required equipment.
It proves very beneficial as it can take the patient’s data day in and day out and send it straight to the doctor, provided there is an internet connection. This is highly efficient as the device would be doing most of the work and the provider would be able to keep a watchful eye over the patient by receiving their data every day.
Telemedicine solutions have become even more advanced in the case of store-and-forward solutions where a provider in one location gathers patient data and has to send it to a physician in a different location. These solutions tend to have integrated audio and visual recording devices that can be shared with other devices.
To learn more about telemedicine software and devices, and see what devices suit your needs.