What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine is the diagnosis and treatment of patients by a remote clinician using telecommunications technology like videoconferencing. It makes it possible for a physician and patient to be in separate rooms, cities, states or even countries and still be connected face-to-face.

How does telemedicine work in a hospital?

There are multiple use cases in hospitals for telemedicine. 

  • In the emergency room, remote specialists can “beam in” to consult with the patient and onsite staff for telestroke, telePsychiatry and other acute issues. 
  • In the ICU, a teleIntensivist can provide expertise to onsite staff regarding care plans for critically ill patients. 
  • Telemedicine can be used with admitted patients, as well, such as those with complications from surgery.
  • Many hospitals don’t have 24/7 access to all the specialists they need and use telemedicine to supplement coverage.

Benefits of Telemedicine

  • Telemedicine provides a host of benefits for both providers and patients, including:
  • Access to specialists not otherwise locally available
  • Reduced wait time for an appointment
  • More efficient patient treatment workflow, allowing providers and hospitals to see more patients
  • Increased provider and hospital revenue
  • Reduced provider and hospital cost
  • Reduced time to diagnosis and treatment
  • Rapid communication between members of the medical team and patient
  • Reduced physician burnout
  • Helping patients get better, faster

Why is the use of telemedicine use growing?

There are several reasons that the use of telemedicine is growing:

  • Physician shortages make it hard to recruit enough specialists to staff appropriately.
  • An aging population means that there is more demand for services. 
  • With high demand and not enough supply, physicians experience burnout trying to make up the gap.
  • The rapid acceleration of the adoption of technology, like mobile phones, means consumers expect more convenience in their healthcare.

Telemedicine is a cost-effective way to connect providers and patients, and more physician groups and hospitals are adopting telemedicine every day.

Are telemedicine and telehealth the same thing?

Telemedicine and telehealth are often used interchangeably. However, most healthcare professionals define telemedicine as remote clinical care, and telehealth as educational and preventative care, such as provider training, continuing medical education, wellness programs, and other non-clinical services.

Conclusion

Telemedicine plays a crucial role in allowing hospitals and healthcare providers to operate efficiently and provide the best, most specialized care to their patients. With telemedicine as part of their treatment program, patients are better able to access the care they need when they need it, and be on their way to better health as soon as possible. With access to specialists from anywhere in the world, telemedicine provides unprecedented levels of access to provider expertise, helping to save more lives every day. Learn more about telemedicine with the resources below.

Additional Resources on Telemedicine

intelligent guide to telemedicine

The Intelligent Guide to Acute Telemedicine

How Telemedicine Benefits an Aging Population

How Telemedicine Benefits an Aging Population

Acute Care Telemedicine

Acute Care Telemedicine: What Is It and Why Is It Necessary?

8 Lessons Learned after 650,000 telemedicine consults

8 Lessons Learned After 850,000 Telemedicine Consults

Mother and Daughter Being Reassured by Physician

Telemedicine: Reassuring Patients, Families and Doctors Alike

picture of Mauricio Sirvent

Telemedicine’s Growing Influence in U.S. Healthcare

Learn from the experts on building, scaling, and optimizing a telemedicine program

Clinical Quality Program in Telemedicine

Clinical Quality Management Program in Telemedicine

New Service Lines for Telemedicine

How Should CEOs Evaluate New Service Lines for Telemedicine?