Improving Patient Care With Telemedicine Technology

Improving Patient Care With Telemedicine Technology

Edward T. Chen (University of Massachusetts – Lowell, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0047-7.ch001

Abstract

With the spread of telecommunications infrastructure, telemedicine has attracted attention from both healthcare and IT industries. Telemedicine has shown a potential to improve health maintenance, enhancement, as well as healthcare cost reduction. Many governments are boosting telemedicine applications through regulations. The purpose of this chapter is to review the major telemedicine technologies—telemedicine, wearable devices, and emerging innovative health equipment—and current issues of the impact on the patient care in the healthcare industry, the business opportunities, and threats from telemedicine.
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Telemedicine

Telemedicine is changing the lives of patients by making healthcare more accessible than ever before. The Internet is completely changing the way people look at managing their health. As technology advances, individuals can integrate telemedicine more seamlessly. For example, the Apple Watch has the capability to track heart rates and feed it to smart phones. This information can be sent to primary care physicians to give them real time data on how their patient’s body is performing. Patients with chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease now can be monitored more closely with the help of wearable health devices and interactive patient portals.

Scheduling and completing appointments is now easier than ever before. Patients can log on and send an email rather than call and speak with someone directly. They can schedule an appointment from an automated calendar rather than do so with a medical secretary. Patients can complete a follow up health survey with questions related to their in-office visit a few weeks after the fact rather than return to the office for a follow up visit. Conversely, a physician can answer a handful of emails much faster than they can see the same number of patients since each would need to come in, check in, confirm their information, make their payment, get their vitals taken, speak with the physician, debrief with an assistant, pay for their visit, and schedule the next one. A virtual visit is as easy as answering a few questions or reading a message. The process is much easier than in-person visits. This encourages patients to check in with their doctors more frequently. Therefore, patients should be able to sustain a better level of health (Rupp, 2017; Sanyal, 2018).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Accessibility: The availability of good health services within reasonable reach of those who need them and of opening hours, appointment systems and other aspects of service organization and delivery that allow people to obtain the services when they need them.

Information Accessibility: The right of a patient to seek, receive and impart information and ideas concerning health issues. This access to information, however, should not impair the right to have personal health data treated with confidentiality.

Smartwatch: A smartwatch is a wearable computer in the form of a wristwatch. Modern smartwatches provide a local touchscreen interface for daily use, while an associated smartphone app provides for management and telemetry such as long-term biomonitoring.

Telemedicine: Telemedicine is the use of telecommunication and information technology to provide clinical health care from a distance. It has been used to overcome distance barriers and to improve access to medical services that would often not be consistently available in distant rural communities.

Digital Therapeutics: A health discipline and treatment option that utilizes a digital and often online health technologies to treat a medical or psychological condition.

Digital Health: The convergence of digital technologies with health, healthcare, living, and society to enhance the efficiency of healthcare delivery and make medicines more personalized and precise.

Affordability: A measure of people’s ability to pay for services without financial hardship. It considers not only the price of the health services but also indirect and opportunity costs such as the costs of transportation to and from facilities and of taking time away from work.

Artificial Intelligence: The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.

Affordable Care Act (ACA): The comprehensive health care reform law enacted in the U.S. in March 2010, sometimes known as ACA, PPACA, or “Obamacare”. The law has 3 primary goals: make affordable health insurance available to more people; expand the Medicaid program to cover all adults with income below 138% of the federal poverty level; and, support innovative medical care delivery methods designed to lower the costs of health care generally.

Wearable Devices: A wearable device is a technology that is worn on the human body. Wearable devices are also known as wearable gadgets, wearable technology or simply wearables.

Privacy: Medical privacy or health privacy is the practice of maintaining the security and confidentiality of patient records. It involves both the conversational discretion of health care providers and the security of medical records.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): A U.S. federal law enacted in 1996 that protects continuity of health coverage when a person changes or loses a job, that limits health-plan exclusions for preexisting medical conditions, that requires that patient medical information be kept private and secure, that standardizes electronic transactions involving health information, and that permits tax deduction of health insurance premiums by the self-employed.

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