Digital Themes


What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine uses technology to provide virtual health monitoring, diagnosis, and prescriptions to patients without physically being in a medical office. Patients communicate with providers using online portals or mobile apps where email, direct messaging, and real-time video for non-emergency healthcare concerns or needs. Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is a part of telemedicine, where providers direct patients to use medical devices connected to online servers that transmit live health data. Telemedicine does not cover severe health episodes, such as heart attacks.

A doctor’s clinic usually administers telemedicine for common health concerns, such as receiving a prescription to treat a cold or a bacterial infection, allowing patients to quickly use digital or mobile technology for efficient and effective care from a primary care physician or routine specialist. Telemedicine for many types of non-serious medical issues – strep throat, rashes, bug bites, and fevers –are virtually diagnosed through a doctor’s online portal. Online service such as Doctor-on-Demand for a video link, or an insurance company that provides a virtual platform can also assist in telemedicine. Once registered on a platform, patients receive virtual care within a few hours.

A physician can make a medical diagnosis in real-time and guide patients to a specialty treatment plan – lifestyle changes, diabetes monitoring, or prescription updates – at speed and convenience. Physicians can also share a patient’s medical information with another doctor’s database for review or additional care management. Although telemedicine provides digital medical services that are easy and accessible, it should not be used in place of overall care and physical treatments.

How does telemedicine work?

Video calls between patient and physician occur on a secure platform with HIPAA regulations. Typically, a physician’s office updates a patient’s electronic health record (EHR) with documentation of the telemedicine visit. Doctors can see patients regardless of insurance plan, broadening access to quality treatment irrespective of income and employment status. 

Telemedicine services allow patients to download an app to their device and pay a fee for the service through an online payment system. The majority of services have a pay-per-visit policy and do not require monthly plans to access care. Physicians who are subscribed to an online telemedicine service can see an appointment request through a connected platform and choose a time that fits their schedule. Patients usually get a virtual appointment with a physician quickly after making a request, allowing care to start immediately and reducing the time lost waiting for in-office treatment. 

Platforms can vary based on the care needed, i.e., women’s health, nutrition, and mental health. 

Patients who use RPM devices – blood pressure monitors, smart scales, and glucose monitors – can wirelessly transmit live health data to a physician who can provide timely medical treatment. 

Physicians can use telemedicine to maintain the medical status, for example, with diabetes, without costly in-person testing and time wasted on receiving results. Patients quickly speak to a physician who guides them on additional care routines by accessing the preferred digital channel, i.e., telephone, online chat, email, or video call. Physicians can refer patients to specialized doctors if more significant medical needs are required.

Postoperative care after surgical operations can also avail virtual communication. 

Telemedicine can benefit healthcare in the following ways:

  • Improved compliance: Physicians and patients who connect on digital platforms have improved protocol management, enabling patients to have more follow-ups that monitor the progress of treatment routines. Patients do not have to worry about driving to maintain their routine visits, making them easier to maintain drug management and care programs. 
  • Quality: Patients who do not have physical access to quality doctors can receive better care when they sign up for services like iCliniq and MDlive. Patients can receive excellent care despite restrictions due to insurance coverage, as they pay out of pocket for a virtual visit. If needed, treatment can continue through virtual platforms when physical intervention is not required. 
  • Cost savings: The overall cost of care delivery can be reduced due to patients starting treatment programs at their homes. Hospitals can have more space for medical emergencies or vital examinations. Specialty care can be initiated and maintained with routine access from mobile devices, creating better resource management within the healthcare ecosystem. 
  • Disease control: Telemedicine allows those who have significant illnesses and diseases to receive care in a controlled environment, lessening the exposure to those who are immunocompromised or pregnant.
Related content