3 ways clinical telemedicine is revolutionizing specialty care

Nov 2, 2015 / Telemedicine technology /
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Telemedicine has made a splash in emergency medicine and in family practices all across the country. Awareness of the benefits of clinical telemedicine only seems to be growing as more of these applications integrate new technologies and processes into their operation.

But did you know that telemedicine can provide even more fascinating benefits for specialty practitioners? The accessibility, ease of use and cost-effectiveness of clinical telemedicine have all contributed to physician problem-solving in a number of specialty fields in some incredible and unexpected ways.

Here are three specialized applications of clinical telemedicine that help demonstrate how truly vast the reach of this technology is.

1. Burn units

Caring for patients who have received significant burn injuries takes a deft hand and a high level of clinical care, so you may not think this branch of medicine has much to gain from telemedicine integration. However, you'd be wrong.

In fact, burn care is something of a "growth field" within clinical telemedicine. According to a report published by The University of Utah Health Science Center's Burn-Trauma Center, 84 percent of clinical burn units surveyed indicated that they used telemedicine, and 74 percent use clinical telemedicine routinely.

Regions Hospital also cited major benefits of introducing clinical telemedicine into its burn unit workflow. With video conferencing technology, local doctors and nurses can consult with specialists in real time - with the patient present as well. This process saves travel time for the patient and greatly increases the quality of care the unit can provide.

"Telemedicine-equipped staff can consult directly with sexual assault patients and rural practitioners."

2. Forensic investigations

Forensic medicine often requires a particularly sensitive touch because of the nature of the cases managed by this branch of healthcare, particularly when it comes to forensic investigations into sexual assault cases. Unfortunately, like many other specialized medical fields, patients in rural areas may find themselves without access to the necessary professionals in these instances, despite the fact that hospitals are required to have Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners on hand to conduct these investigations.

Clinical telemedicine pioneers at the University of California-Davis have expanded the effective area of coverage even of rural hospitals thanks to integrating telemedicine into their Sexual Assault Response Team operations. Using video conferencing technology and secure and private Internet connections, as well as remote medical devices - particularly colposcopes - UC Davis clinicians and SANE staff can consult directly with sexual assault patients and rural practitioners to improve the quality and the care with which these examinations are carried out.

3. Cancer follow-ups

Oncology can be a complicated and involved field of medicine, not least because of the level of follow-up care involved. Once direct treatment in the form of surgery or chemotherapy has been delivered, there is still a rigorous schedule of follow-up appointments and check-ins that are integral to the process. Unfortunately, for rural cancer patients, distance and lack of qualified specialist care can compromise this need.

Clinical telemedicine for oncology has actually been around since the mid-1990s, but it's starting to pick up in a big way. Using a combination of video technology, secure, reliable Internet and remote medical devices, specialists can consult with local physicians and patients to fulfill a number of integral follow-up services. Not only can urban physicians interview both patients and nurses, but they can also use telemedicine devices to check things like cardiac function and breathing or skin lesions and discoloration, and can even inspect ear, nose and throat concerns as well.

More importantly this type of technology also encourages physicians across different practices to consult directly more often, whereas prior to telemedicine, there was significantly less direct communication between practitioners.

If you're interested in learning more about how telemedicine can help improve clinic efficiency, contact us today to get started with planning your own customized telemedicine program.

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