Telemedicine – e-Health – Telehealth
Bridging the gap between the Patient and the Health Provider
What is Telemedicine?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Telemedicine represents “The delivery of health care services, where distance is a critical factor, by all health care professionals using information and communication technologies for the exchange of valid information for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and injuries, research and evaluation, and for the continuing education of health care providers, all in the interests of advancing the health of individuals and their communities”.
In this context, WHO recognizes Telemedicine as a potential factor that will contribute to the “Health for All” strategy, contributing to the vision for a world where the benefits of the development of science, technology and public health will be enjoyed by all citizens, regardless of their place of living.
Life expectancy at birth in Europe was estimated to be 80.9 years in 2017 and is expected to continue rising. This rise however is linked to more people with one or more chronic diseases. The need for long-term treatment has led to the development of new healthcare models that facilitate treating and monitoring people at home. Telemedicine innovates in the provision of healthcare services through electronic forms of communication.
The benefits of Telemedicine
In telemedicine, technology is combined with medicine, providing patients with clinical assistance through real-time interactive services. This type of practice is achieved through devices (personal computer, tablet etc.) that are usually already existent in the doctor’s office and in the patient’s area.
Through telemedicine the patient can communicate in real time with the doctor and describe all the symptoms related to his/her medical condition. Following this procedure, the doctor can then inform the patient about the course of actions required and the possible therapeutic treatment. The benefits of Telemedicine can be summarized in the following:
– It allows people to have more control over their medical condition, while maintaining their autonomy at home.
- Reduces the need for visits to private clinics, saving time and travel costs
- Supports a long-term management of medical conditions at home
- There is no need for special technological appliances or gadgets. A personal computer and a web-camera/microphone are sufficient.
- Enables health monitoring of people living in remote areas.
- Reduces the cost of health care
- Some forms of telemedicine provide direct access to healthcare specialists, thus eliminating appointments waiting time.
Who can benefit from Telemedicine?
According to the United Nations, one in 10 people worldwide is 60 years of age or older. Modern technologies – can support the functional independence of the elderly based on the understanding of their needs and capabilities. Technology can create the conditions to support functional independence and make a significant contribution to accident prevention.
Telemedicine is mainly aimed at people in remote areas, such as farmers or those who do not have easy access to health facilities, such as the disabled. In addition, it is also applicable to those individuals who work long hours, travel a lot and want to save time. In this way, broad categories of people can access a wide range of healthcare services. The use of new technologies allows, in general, the easy and direct communication of the doctor with the patient through the transmission of audio and video, eliminating the kilometer distances.
Given that the human life is invaluable, the need for the application of Telemedicine for the better provision of medical services at national and global level is recognized.
The systematic development of Telemedicine is an ongoing challenge, to which we must respond with knowledge, innovative design and planned actions.
Not Permitted for Telemedicine (Exclusion Criteria)
- No narcotic or controlled substance renewal or prescription
- No children under 12 years of age
- No psychiatric conditions
- No emergency symptoms including:
- Chest/abdominal acute pain
- Altered state of consciousness
- No acute phase injuries or surgical stitches
- No chronic diseases in an acute phase
- No active cancer medical cases