Telemedicine is the name given to the diagnosis and treatment of patients when the patient and doctor are far from each other. You may ask how that is possible without them actually meeting? Well, that is where tele-communication comes in.
Telemedicine has broken barriers and made it possible for medical practice to be done from remote areas. The doctor and patient need not be in one room, as per conventional medical practice. The doctor can be in touch with the patient either through a phone call, video chat, and more recently a chat bot. The patient can explain their symptoms to the physician. The physician, then, uses their medical expertise to provide a solution to the patient. The patient can be satisfied without even leaving the comfort of their own home.
Use of Telemedicine
If you are privileged enough to run to the doctor’s office whenever you are under the weather, then be thankful for that. However, not everyone is privileged. There are millions of people who do not have access to a doctor. Some people live in such areas where doctors are not available. It is also possible that certain conditions might not allow them to leave their residency. Elderly patients are especially inconvenienced with repeated trips for follow-ups.
Telemedicine solves such problems by benefiting both doctors and patients. Physicians can provide care to patients with flexible working hours and convenient work environment. The physician does not become overburdened. They can work according to their own schedule. Telemedicine has also been a great source for physicians to widen their horizons. They can gain exposure to a bigger variety of cases than ever before.
Moreover, telemedicine allows doctors to earn more than their primary practice. In addition, it brings them a great opportunity to balance their work and family life. Due to such an array of advantages for both patients and doctors, more and more people are making use of telemedicine with time.
What are the future prospects for telemedicine?
Telemedicine has been expanding its roots worldwide, especially in places like Africa where healthcare resources are scarce. People have to travel to far flung areas to get medical attention which can further worsen their condition if they are very sick. Telemedicine has removed this inconvenience and has also helped lower healthcare cost. In rural areas of many African countries such as Sudan, Rwanda, South Africa, Ethiopia, Uganda etc. telemedicine has been successfully used which has proved that telemedicine can greatly complement traditional healthcare for the provision of better facilities in Africa.
With the advent of the chat bot, telemedicine has been able to manipulate artificial intelligence in such a way that common minor cases and queries are dealt with. The chatbot communicates with the patient in a much more human-like manner and can give basic advice or book appointments with an actual doctor. In this way, both the physician’s and patient’s time is saved. With further advancement in the field of science and technology, far more realistic and intelligent chat bots are being made. Having a look at Google’s Duplex can help you understand the idea better. Considering these factors, it does not seem entirely impossible that chat bots will soon replace telemedicine all together providing much better health care.
However, as all innovations are met with their fair share of skepticism and limitations, telemedicine and chat bots leaves many people confused and even scared of their use of artificial intelligence. Despite mixed reception, the advantages of telemedicine can not be denied and will indeed change medical practice for the better as it continues to benefit both ends of medicine and healthcare.