An Overview of Telemedicine

Telemedicine is a medical practice healthcare professionals use to diagnose and treat patients remotely. Specifically, they use telecommunications technologies to attend to patients at a distance. Doctors and other healthcare personnel use telemedicine to offer various services, including primary care consultation, physical therapy, psychotherapy, and emergency services.

Additionally, doctors use this practice to assess patients whether or not they need in-person treatment. Other times, they employ it to address minor infections and injuries and offer certain therapy types such as speech therapy. They also write and renew prescriptions remotely. A doctor recommends telemedicine when a patient can’t physically access a health center or must practice physical distancing.

Today, telemedicine involves using high-quality video tools. Telemedicine surfaced in the 1950s after university health centers and a handful of hospital systems introduced an image and information sharing platform using the telephone. During this time, a doctor attending to a patient would connect remotely with a distant specialist to access specialized care. This method helped populations residing in rural areas and other hard-to-reach places.

Over time, advancements in technology introduced better systems of connecting healthcare professionals with patients. Specifically, the internet’s proliferation and advances in technologies, including smartphones and other devices, have transformed telemedicine.

In the United States, telemedicine is fast growing into a healthcare delivery tool. More than half of all hospitals in the country use some telemedicine form. As of 2022, patients can access about 3,500 service locations distributed over 200 telemedicine networks. The practice is so beneficial that, in 2011, it helped reach over 300,000 veterans.

Telemedicine differs from telehealth. While telemedicine uses telecommunication technology to deliver care over a distance, telehealth is a broad term that entails telecommunications and electronic technologies that healthcare providers use to provide care remotely. Telemedicine specifically refers to offering clinical services at a distance. In contrast, telehealth can include non-clinical services. These include administrative meetings, training, and medical education.

A paramount concern for patients is how safe the practice is. This mainly involves the use of video tools. Experts say it is just as safe as in-person care for appropriate cases and under the right conditions. Not all cases call for video consultation. Therefore, the healthcare professional must rule out all other possibilities and consider it the only viable option.

Again, patients worry about their privacy and security, considering telemedicine transmits their data. Telemedicine must conform to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations to address this. Consumer video platforms, including Facetime and Skype, don’t count since they don’t meet such rules. Instead, providers use technologies that decrypt and protect patient data.

Telemedicine benefits both the patient and the doctor. For patients, it lowers costs that would otherwise go to commuting and childcare when one visits a health center physically. It also enhances care provision to particular categories of people, including people with disabilities, the elderly, those geographically isolated, and those who’re incarcerated.

Additionally, telemedicine helps extend preventive care, especially to those with geographic and financial barriers limiting them from accessing physical health centers. Besides, this practice slows the spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

For healthcare providers, there are few overhead costs. Thus, they pay less for front desk support or rent a few examination rooms. Also, for established health centers, telemedicine offers an additional income stream. Besides, it helps protect them from infectious diseases.

Health Disparities – Why Cancer Screening Still Isn’t Accessible

Eugene E. Houchins III is the founder of American Life Fund, a life insurance policy consulting firm. In Eugene E. Houchins III’s line of work, cancer and its prevention are frequently discussed as the disease is the second most common cause of death in the United States.

In the fight against cancer, early cancer screenings are an important tool. Cancer caught early can be dealt with much more easily, especially if the cancer is malignant or actively growing and infecting more healthy cells. However, the accessibility of these screenings, which can include cancer education, is not evenly distributed across the country, leaving certain populations more vulnerable to the disease than others.

These barriers to better health include, but are not limited to being in a racial minority group (Black, Asian, etc.), living in a rural area, having a low income, or not having insurance. These barriers, often called health disparities, have a compounding effect that makes them more obstructive when combined.

These disparities can be explained by examining the cost of these screenings and the availability (or lack thereof) of information on them. For example, living in a rural area means less likelihood of cancer screening being advertised to you or accessible in your area. Having a low income or poor insurance also can discourage a person from attending a cancer screening, as even if the screening is free, it might be too expensive to take time off work to attend.

Two Categories of Complementary and Alternative Medicine

An established entrepreneur and financial professional in Georgia, Eugene E. Houchins III serves as the president of American Life Fund Corp. Eugene Houchins III oversees viatical settlements, which provide life-insurance policyholders with cash payouts that they can put toward living expenses, medical costs, or alternative or complementary treatments.

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) refers to products and practices that either supplement or offer an alternative to standard treatments and medical care. They fall into five categories, two of which comprise biofield therapy and mind-body therapies. Mind-body therapies help alleviate stress and relax the body. Yoga, meditation, hypnosis, and biofeedback represent a few such methods. These therapies incorporate breathing techniques, mental focus, and body movements to support relaxation. For example, yoga emphasizes attention to breathing while engaging in physical poses and stretches.

Biofield therapy, or energy medicine, attempts to foster wellness and healing by activating energy fields presumed by some practitioners to surround the body. When performing biofield therapy, the therapist places their hands in or through the patient’s biofield to stimulate a healing response. Types of energy medicine include Reiki and therapeutic touch. Reiki sometimes involve direct contact with the patient’s body, while therapeutic touch is restricted to movement over their energy fields.