Good health helps us live a fuller life. While the number of doctors should cover everyone’s health, the reality proves a lack of coverage in remote areas. Considering that the technology will grow but also the elderly generation is becoming more and more familiar with electronic devices, this circumstance presents the opportunity for new digital healthcare models to expand the service next to the physical office in rural areas. Hereby, a variety of different use cases catering to the needs of patients seem reliable, but nevertheless Telehealth services are also confronted with many challenges that the healthcare landscape comes with.
02. August 2019, by Anja Köhler
eHealth comes in different synonyms but is mostly associated with Telemedicine and Telehealth. Telemedicine, which covers the medical consultation on remote, is a part of Telehealth, as defined by the American telemedicine association.
Teleclinic, Patientus and Doc Cirrus, just to name a few, are German Start-ups, which came up with innovative solutions for the healthcare industry. For example, TeleClinic develops a communication platform that enables simple and secure communication between doctors and patients all over Germany. In a similar vein, although with a different objective as the above-stated example is Patientus. This firm offers easy and affordable access to a doctor of the patient’s choice – regardless of their current location. Therefore, patients register for free and only pay the consultation fee, set by the doctor himself.
Use Cases of mobile health
The use cases of TeleClinic and Patientus cover just a small area of the broad field of possibilities in Telemedicine as a part of Telematics. In order to get a better overview, the matter of Telemedicine can be differentiated into four areas.
Healthcare in remote locations
Problem: All over the world, people living in remote and very remote areas generally have poorer access to, and use of, health services than people in cities. Thus, people living in remote communities may need to travel long distances or relocate to attend health services or receive specialized treatment.
Telehealth as solution: Innovative services in Telemedicine are able to ensure high healthcare standards in rural areas. For patients a typical Telemedicine discussion may involve calling a Telemedicine number. The patient is either immediately connected to a clinician via video conferencing technology or gets an interactive call back from a physician or nurse depending on the country and Telehealth provider. The person that the patient speaks to may not be the patient’s primary care physician, but instead a contracted clinician at a Telemedicine network. Based on the clinician’s evaluation, the call may end with a patient receiving further instructions, such as a recommendation to go to a hospital, obtain an online doctor prescription or simply schedule a follow-up appointment.
Remote Elderly Monitoring
Problem: People worldwide are living longer. For the first time in history, most people in the world have a life expectancy higher than sixty years. In the following years, both – the age expectancy and the proportion of people reaching the new age expectancy will increase. Elderly and geriatric patients need a higher frequency of health checks and medication, which puts pressure on relatives, nurses, caregivers and physicians.
Telehealth as solution: Services of Telehealth realize the desires of seniors who do not want to lose their independence and stay at home as long as possible. A network of sensors helps to smartly manage and track their medication usage. Moreover, personal health and medical data from a patient in one location is transferred electronically to a nurse, caregiver or physician in a different location for monitoring purposes. Therefore, vital health statistics of residents are permanently under surveillance whereas the senior person can live an independent life with invisible daily assistance.
Remote Psychiatric Care
Problem: Especially in industrialized countries, mental illness such as depression is on the rise. Reasons for this negative trend are increased performance pressures (education, career, financial, etc.), gender confusion, breakdown of the family unit, just to name a few. People with mental illness are often stigmatized and hardly find the power to search for help.
Telehealth as solution: Remote psychiatric care has some advantages over traditional psychiatry. It helps to meet patients’ needs for convenient, affordable and readily accessible mental health services because services of Telepsychiatry brings care to the patient’s location. A reduced barrier of stigma and a reduced time off work are other benefits of Telepsychiatry.
Getting a Second Opinion
Problem: Sometimes a diagnosis is not very clear, or a treatment seems to be very risky. Therefore, patients may ask for a quick opinion from a second specialist. This can offer insights into additional treatment options that the first doctor may not have mentioned. It can be relevant for either oneself, one’s child or one’s relatives in order to become more informed and make an educated decision.
Telehealth as solution: Telemedicine provides solutions in this aspect as well. Companies offer fast and straightforward second opinions with technological support available up to 24 hours a day. Consequently, one can receive a second opinion from the comfort of being at home. Depending on the provider, all a patient needs to do is to create an account, submit a questionnaire and schedule a phone call or video chat with a physician.
Take away of Telehealth solutions
The application field of Telehealth is very broad, which can be seen in the exemplary classifications above. There are so many use cases for Telemedicine, that a large group of interest is attracted by the diverse services. A person living in a remote location, being in a senior stage of life, having trouble to find the power to get traditional mental care or just seek for a second opinion on the skin rash of one’s newborn baby benefit from innovative technologies in Telemedicine.
But does the technology match with people’s acceptance or is the remote doctor consultation crashing on privacy breach even before solving the urbanization challenge?
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