Telemedicine – A New Direction in Healthcare

Telemedicine is a way to diagnose, treat, and consult with patients via telecommunications technology. It is now increasingly integrated into the healthcare infrastructure in the country due to its many advantages for both the patients and the providers.

Telemedicine is covered by insurance. But it depends on the insurer. Reimbursements for Medicare and Medicaid can differ from one state to another. For instance, there can be different regulations for telemedicine in Texas, Florida, and California.

Telemedicine is not be confused with telehealth. The former is about providing remote clinical medical care. The latter is broader in meaning; it can include healthcare services along with administrative work, education, training, and public health. 

How is Telemedicine Conducted?

Doctors and healthcare providers often utilize simple video-calling facilities for telemedicine. Different software, conference tools, and portable kits are also used for telemedicine.

Conference tools and software need to be HIPPA-compliant depending on each state’s regulations.  HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is the legislation in the US that protects medical information and ensures data privacy. So, service providers might need to use HIPPA-approved tools to offer remote medical care. The right software can help service providers with video conferencing, data storage, and other essential tasks for the job.

The kits and technology can include digital cameras and portable medical devices. These devices can be used for monitoring vital signs or for conducting ECGs and other tests.

Benefits

With the advancements in technology, several changes have come about in the field of medical care.

For patients – Telemedicine benefits patients as anyone with access to the required technology can seek medical care from specialists from anywhere in the world. Patients living in remote areas can also now access the medical care they require using telemedicine.

Patients don’t need to miss work or travel long distances for their medical care. Patients can now consult with a doctor without incurring expenses on travel.

The elderly can seek medical care from the comfort of their homes or assisted living facilities. They need not inconvenience themselves for in-person clinical visits if they didn’t manage it. Telemedicine is proving to be quite useful for helping the elderly living in assisted living facilities. With the help of the right tools, doctors can now see patients at night or odd hours also. The elderly suffer from many ailments and may require emergency care at any time of the day. Telemedicine can be quite useful in this regard.

Telemedicine also helps to keep a check on contagious diseases. Patients with infections can stay home and seek medical care rather than spread the germs by being out and about in the vicinity of other patients. If you are someone who prefers to not expose yourself to patients with contagious infections; you can seek medical care via telemedicine.

Telemedicine can also be less expensive for managing chronic conditions. If you suffer from chronic ailments, you need to see your doctor very often for the assessment and management of the condition. With the help of telemedicine, you can do so in a more economical and comfortable manner.

For healthcare service providers – Telemedicine helps doctors and nurses to offer care to anyone in any part of the country or the world — the tools for telemedicine aid in providing diagnosis and treatment in real-time to patients with ease.

It helps providers in providing medical care to more patients than can be possible by merely in-person clinical visits. They can reach more patients and help them with their medical expertise.

Telemedicine and Insurance

Telemedicine works the same way for patients as in-person visits when it comes to insurance. Depending on your state’s legislation and your plan, it is likely to be covered by your insurance plan.

Medicare will pay for telemedicine services depending on the plan or under certain circumstances. One instance is if the patient is not able to visit the provider or vice versa. Another instance can be if you do not have the medical care you need in your area.

So, depending on your requirements, you can inquire about Medicare or your insurer paying for telemedicine and choose a plan accordingly.

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