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Telemedicine – a Future of Medicine? A Short Guide

© by https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/

The COVID pandemic has accelerated a multitude of trends towards telemedicine. Also known as telehealth, it uses communication technologies (websites, chats, audio/video calls and so on) to deliver healthcare services from doctors to patients without the necessity to be present in the same physical location like a clinic. According to the US CDC, use of telemedicine services skyrocketed by over 150% in March 2020 compared to the same month in 2019. What are the benefits of telemedicine and trends of its development in the future?

Benefits and Perspectives of Telemedicine

There are two forms of telemedicine: synchronous and asynchronous. The first one requires the presence of both a patient and a doctor at the same time to ensure real-time interaction. The second one implies gathering medical data, for instance, with the help of specially developed online questionnaires, which will be later checked by a doctor (not in real time). 

Benefits of telemedicine include:

  • elimination of elder or child care issues;
  • no costs spent for transportation;
  • access to a wider range of medical specialists;
  • control of infectious illnesses, such as COVID-2019’
  • access to healthcare for people living in rural areas;
  • often a more flexible scheduling;
  • more affordable services to patients without affecting their quality. 

It is also worth to mention several trends which drive the future of telehealth:

  • increased patient involvement;
  • increased chronic care management;
  • greater focus on providing services in mental health sector;
  • better user experience;
  • integrated data sharing (for example, many telemedicine apps begin to communicate with fitness applications);
  • remote patient monitoring;
  • convenient remote pediatric care;
  • more investments in technologies.

How to Choose a Reliable Supplier of Medicines Online?

Offering medicines via the internet (with a doctor’s consultation) is one of the forms of telemedicine. Of course, unlicensed rogue pharmacies have nothing to do with delivering care at a distance. They are often operated by criminal opportunists from third world countries. To detect a rogue pharmacy, pay attention to such factors as presence of physical address, availability of this entity in a relevant state registry, cooperation with real doctors who can issue digital prescriptions, etc.

Several categories of medicines can currently be offered online (non-inclusive list):

  • erectile dysfunction medicines;
  • medications to treat diabetes mellitus;
  • weight loss medicines (pills and injections);
  • antibiotics and antifungals;
  • antihypertensive meds;
  • anthelmintics;
  • different types of contraceptive remedies (pills, patches, intravaginal rings, etc.);
  • products for women’s health;
  • antiallergic remedies (like antihistamines and medications against severe such as Epipen – epinephrine injections).

Several categories of medicines, such as anticancer remedies and potent antidepressants, cannot be offered online.

The Bottom Line

Amidst global pandemic, telemedicine is gaining new perspectives. It is often more convenient to contact a doctor online. Of course, telemedicine cannot fully replace physical examination and medical tests, however, for example, a patient can do some test at home or in a special establishment and then simply send a document with results to a doctor. 

Health clinics should offer a wide range of telemedicinal services to fit varying needs of people both during and after the coronavirus pandemic.