Telemedicine means exactly as it sounds — a medical service delivered via telephone or any communications platform. Nearly one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine has proven itself to be viable and valuable for patients and caregivers alike. This is because it allows care to be provided while avoiding the physical proximity that heightens the risk of spreading or getting infected with the disease.

Making telemedicine work

Key elements in making telemedicine work are video teleconferencing equipment, a fast and stable internet connection, and advanced telemedicine hardware and software. These elements are indispensable because telemedicine now requires highly visual interactions and access to pertinent medical information.

In particular, internet of medical things (IoMT) devices such as wearable heart rate monitors and sudden fall detectors help push the field of telemedicine further because of how these collect data and update caregivers in real time. When the vital signs of device wearers drop to critical levels, ambulatory services may be called upon automatically to check on patients and provide treatment quickly. Additionally, these machines create a compendium of health information that grant physicians a clearer picture of how their patients are doing come their next virtual consultation.

Healthcare businesses and individual medical practices with telemedical capability also need to comply with the regulations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), and other healthcare legislation. Mostly, these regulations involve compliance with the handling and storage of personally identifiable patient information.

Benefits of telemedicine

Telemedicine is not meant to take over conventional medical care, but rather supplement it. Patients can expect an expansion of this practice among many medical providers, while healthcare providers can expect rapid growth in telemedicine technology, especially as IoMT devices proliferate and healthcare compliance requirements evolve.

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