Medical Advancements To Look Forward To This Year #5: Telemedicine

5. Telemedicine

The medical field is always at the heels of innovation. There is rarely a dull moment. Some new discovery or invention always grips our imagination and intrigue as passionate followers of this developing art. However, every advancement undoubtedly carries with it a risk of taking away something else. After all, this is human beings we are talking about – the most complex creatures in the world that excel in their ability to think, feel, and rationalize their existence amidst the every-growing complexity around them. Most recently, the concept of telemedicine has invited significant discussion as well as skepticism from the medical community and the world as a whole.

 

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In essence, telemedicine can be simply described as an effort to remove the physical boundaries of medicine and equip healthcare providers with the capacity to deliver care in any corner of the world with the use of communication technologies. While the practice has already been applied in its initial stages in some sectors of medicine (such as dermatology), it is still in its infancy. The benefits are obviously numerous. The immediate access to an advanced level of care has the unique potential to improve outcomes. For instance, if a patient has stroke-like symptoms, a family member can get in touch with a stroke neurologist through a video call. He/she may be able to help determine the emergent nature of the situation and direct accordingly by visually assessing the patient. With the assistance of first responders on scene, the need for emergent services can also be determined, possibly even contributing to the reduction of overexpenditure of resources in benign circumstances.

 

On the other side of the coin, privacy is a crucial concern. The fact that communications are open, there is room for lack of security and confidentiality in patient care. Furthermore, compensation of physicians also needs to be determined. How would insurance play a role in this? Would they be willing to cover these services? And lastly, we need to consider the “end” of this progress if we keep moving down this path. Do we stand the risk of permanently losing the intimate, in-person physician-patient relationship that is the bedrock of medical practice?

 

For now, we’ll just have to wait and see how this all churns out. For better or for worse, telemedicine is a developing field that may be here to stay.

 

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Yash Pandya

Yash Pandya is a science writer at The "Almost" Doctor's Channel. He is a rising third-year student at the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in Emergency Medicine with minors in Neuroscience and Chemistry. Yash plans on attending the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Fall 2016 with guaranteed admission. In addition to the usual humdrum of academic involvement, Yash loves to play Ping Pong, catch up on the latest "Big Bang Theory," and travel. Having lived in India for half his lifetime, Yash aspires to expand his horizons into international healthcare by practicing medicine globally.