Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) on Telemedicine
 

Telemedicine is an intricate combination of medicine and information technology. It involves remote delivery of medical services and exchange of clinical information by using telecommunication technology. It facilitates two-way, real time communication between the patient and the doctor at a distant site through internet, wireless communication and telephone media.

Telehealth is a broader field compared to Telemedicine, which involves delivery of both clinical and non-clinical services. It provides all services of Telemedicine plus non-clinical services like medical education, administration and research.

Health services can be disseminated through Telemedicine in different methods. A few are given below:

- via video conferencing connecting patients and doctors

- exchange of still images, electronic health records, diagnostic scans and X-rays between patientsfrom a rural location to Physicians and Specialists in the city for diagnosis and interpretations.

- keeping track of vital signs and other parameters in remote locations through various monitoring devices.

- patient education and quick help through apps on tablets and smartphones.

Yes. It is thesafest and most cost-effective way to render health services to the masses. The Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology issues periodic updated guidelines which is followed diligently by all Telemedicine providers. This has ensured that quality services are provided to the people without any levy way for malpractice.

Patients should enquire with their doctor, hospital or clinic about the Telemedicine services that are available. Most health care providers will have home care programs and Telemedicine services for chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, cardiac diseases, lung disease, mental rehabilitation and also maternal care. Numerous private companies also sell basic Telemedicine facilities to health professionals and patients in the form of health monitoring and wellness apps.People living in the rural areas need to enquire in their village or nearby villages for the availability of a telemedicine centre to connect with doctors in the cities.

Telemedicine requires simple and basic electronic equipments, at minimum, a personal computer enabled with internet accessibility, camera, microphones and speakers. Depending on the speciality and method of transmission, additional software programs and equipments like digital stethoscope, otoscopes, BP meters, vital sign monitors, digital ECG may be required. Now-a-days, telemedicine consultations are also available through the use of Smartphone.

Both the patient and health provider located far away from major cities are at an advantage by using Telemedicine

Patient Benefits :

1. Timely and quick treatment at home

2. No time wasted in travelling

3. Access to world class specialists and health personnel

4. Anytime access to health care

5. Continuous monitoring in chronic diseases

6. Emergency care before the patient arrives to hospital

7. Safe and no risk of cross infections

8. Standardized and quality care

9. Cost-effective – Home monitoring can reduce costly hospital visits

10. Access to speciality services which are not generally available in rural setups.

11. Educational programs will help in improving the knowledge of patients

12. Reduced cost of health care

 

Providers Benefits :

1. Inputs from specialists from any part of the world

2. Increased efficiency of health care personnel

3. Patient outcomes are improved

4. High patient satisfaction

5. Addresses the shortage of health care providers

6. Continuing medical education training can be provided for doctors in rural areas

The outlook of Telemedicine is bright in India and has become one of the fastest emerging sector. The Telemedicine market in India was valued at $7.5 million in the year 2012. It has been estimated that the market for Telemedicine will expand by 20% annually, to $18.7 million by 2017. Currently, more than 20 mHealth initiatives have been set up in the country to educate and spread awareness of family planning and other ailments.

 
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