The fastest definition of telemedicine comes from its etymological meaning, that is, from what the concept means in the word itself. For this we have to refer to the Greek language. The prefix ´tele´, from the Greek, means ddistance ’.
Thus, talking about telemedicine is talking about distance medicine, more precisely, the provision of a service linked to health from a distance. This definition opens a wide range of situations that could be considered part of telemedicine.
From a surgery where a robot is directed in a part of the world by a doctor who is physically in another country, to the simple fact of a web conference between professionals for the discussion of a clinical case.
In the sense of these examples, since 2001 the operation of remote surgical robots is possible. On that date, a cholecystectomy – the removal of the gallbladder – of a French patient through a device operated by a doctor in New York was completed.
But, previously, communication between distance professionals was a daily occurrence. Consider that Since the mid-1990s, the world's great clinics and hospitals had real-time connections for the analysis of complex patients.
With the emergence of a massive internet, and currently with the presence of the internet of things (on the cell phone, on the television, in vehicles), the concept of ´ehealth´. Unlike telemedicine, the ehealth it implies yes or yes the use of the internet as a means for medicine.
Some applications of telemedicine
Among the different uses of telemedicine we have as more relevant:
Electronic medical history
Unlike the traditional and traditional paper medical history, the potential of a patient registry in computer support is enormous.
With the telemedicine the possibility of store medical records on electronic devices and in clouds on the internet that are accessible from anywhere, including for the patient with a password from home. The ease of this mechanism improves attention speeds.
Thanks to telemedicine consultation between a patient and a doctor who are in distant geographical points is possible. Even the interconsultation between professionals becomes fluid with this modality. For geographic regions with poor accessibility, it is a way to improve equality in access to health.
Telemedicine has facilitated both diagnostic and medical procedures. Even, it is currently decisive in distance education issues.
Control actions of vital parameters, such as blood pressure or oxygen saturation, do not necessarily require a natural person to do it constantly.
With telemedicine it is possible to perform remote measurement, saving resources and freeing time for professionals such as nurses so they can carry out other more priority activities.
Long distance education
Human resource training in health also benefits from telemedicine. With internet connections you can attend classes, courses and even full postgraduate courses from anywhere in the world..
Read on: Discover the proper use of the internet to improve your well-being
Advantages of telemedicine
We will now discuss what are, in broad strokes, the advantages of the application of telemedicine, and then analyze what its problems would be:
- Reduction of inequalities: With distance connections you can bring health care to geographically isolated people, for example.
- Speed increase: by being able to consult specialists in other parts of the planet in minutes, the times to arrive at the diagnoses are reduced.
- More participation: Telemedicine allows incorporating different visions of a clinical process. And lets do it in real time. Thus, the path to the health of a person or a population is enriched.
- Statistics: the storage in electronic medical records, the vaccination record in computer media, the reports of adverse effects that are stored in internet clouds, increase the possibility of generating statistics almost in real time to know what is happening with health. These statistics are the basis for decision making on public health issues.
Telemedicine has facilitated the consultation of professionals without important geographical location. In addition, it has shortened the times to receive a diagnosis.
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Let's see then what are the current difficulties of telemedicine:
- Privacy: A great topic of discussion in this area is the preservation of data confidentiality. It is important that electronic medical records are safe and that the primary axis of the doctor-patient relationship is respected.
- Ethics of remote attention: Although it is done with a teleconference, medical care is still an act linked to the ethics of professionals. Even the World Medical Association has a statement about ethics in telemedicine.
- Bad infrastructure: Although the countries that would benefit most from the possibilities of telemedicine are underdeveloped, it is also true that due to their economic conditions they do not have the infrastructure of networks and connections sufficient to support telemedicine.
- Cultural changes: Both professionals and patients are subject to change. This change is in the beliefs and usual practices of health care when faced with telemedicine. The adaptation process can be lengthy and generate suspicion.
In short, although some drawbacks have been found, telemedicine It offers very important advantages in terms of diagnosis, disease information and education. It will probably continue to evolve hand in hand with technology.