A lifetime of telemedicine

Feb 26, 2016 / Telemedicine implementation /

 

The adoption of telemedicine can have a profound impact for members of communities that may not have access to many different healthcare options or facilities. Across a lifetime, patients in rural or remote areas of the country may see great improvement in the quality of treatment they receive as a result. From pediatric consultation to developing plans to combat recurring or chronic conditions, clinical telemedicine has the power to revolutionize care for millions of Americans.

To better understand just how impactful a lifetime of telemedicine can be, consider the life of Olivia. Though her story is fictional, her story is analogous to the sort of issues many families face when seeking healthcare options for loved ones. As Olivia grows, telemedicine continues to positively impact her life.

Childhood:

Olivia was born two weeks premature in a rural area of the country. According to the National Rural Health Association, nearly one in four Americans live in non-metro areas, and for those citizens, driving to a nearby hospital or doctor's office may not be simple. The NRHA stated that just ten percent of doctors serve these parts of the country.

As a child, Olivia is able to receive the care she needs through telemedicine.As a child, Olivia is able to receive the care she needs through telemedicine.

Using telemedicine technology, such as examination cameras and video conferencing, Olivia's family was able to receive critical care at a nearby rural hospital with clinical telemedicine examinations from a pediatric specialist at a large hospital. The doctor, working nearly one hundred miles away, was still able to help Olivia and her family, by leveraging telemedicine technologies to see little Olivia in real-time in her community hospital.

Fast forward 6 years, and Olivia is now in elementary school. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that nearly 9.8 percent of school-age children suffer from asthma, and Olivia needs frequent consultation with a primary care physician because of the ailment. Instead of leaving school for an appointment, however, Olivia can be examined by her school nurse who uses digital stethoscopes, cameras, ENT scopes and other telemedicine devices and communicates in real-time with a remote consulting doctor. Her parents sometimes join the video conferences as well and consult with the doctor, nurse and Olivia in real time.

As Olivia grows older, telemedicine continues to be critical for ensuring she receives high-quality healthcare. Throughout her life, Olivia's family saves time and money by avoiding driving many miles to a nearby city doctor or hospital. Similarly, because receiving treatment has been made easier through telemedicine technology, Olivia and her family lead healthier lives. The NHRA found that  rural communities face many barriers for receiving healthcare, and telemedicine is a way to bridge that gap.

Adulthood:

Olivia is in her final year of college at a local university. Now 22 years old, she faces common medical issues for someone her age, living in a college dorm environment. For example, last semester she woke up one night with a troubling rash all over her body, and needed immediate treatment. Instead of driving across the county to the closest emergency room, she went to the local community clinic to be seen.  

Convenient access to treatment allows Olivia to focus on her studies.Convenient access to treatment allows Olivia to focus on her studies.

Because Olivia's college town is still relatively remote, she was unable to see a dermatologist in person. At the clinic, she was brought into an examination room and connected with a specialist remotely. The dermatologist was able to give Olivia a proper diagnosis, and treatment plan, as well as fill a prescription for her rash. 

Old age:

As Olivia gets older, wants nothing more than to move home and grow old in the community she was born in, and with telemedicine, she is able to do so without worrying about finding medical treatment.

For Olivia, telemedicine continued to be an important part of her life well, even as she became a senior. Because of failing cardiac health, Olivia underwent an operation to put stents in a failing artery, and she required frequent outpatient follow up visits. Through telemedicine devices, software technology and video equipment, she was able to remain in her bed at her assisted living facility while she was recovering and still receive the care she needed.

Telemedicine technology made it possible for Olivia to treat her relatively common medical ailments before they worsened and became critical medical issues. Throughout her life, telemedicine will continue to be a major influence in how she receives healthcare.

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