Within the next half decade, an uncountable number of patients will talk to their doctors via a monitor or display device and avoid waiting rooms. Their treatment via telemedicine will allow them to receive treatment advice and recover without a trip to a doctor’s physical office.
Telemedicine is defined as the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology.
Today our world is very connected, and with seeming omnipresent technology, physicians have also become more connected. X-rays and scans are a text away from a doctor, so patients with a sudden acute situation will be able to use telemedicine to reach their caregiver. This means, that at least virtually, providers can take a patient call 24/7.
The benefits of telemedicine include more efficient and earlier treatment and diagnosis of the patient and improved access to health care for rural and home bound patients.
Telemedicine is not without obstacles however. Data from older legacy systems that providers have used for years must be made available during teleconferencing in order for sessions to work. Scalability is another daunting issue. A flood of information, which is more than present provider systems can handle, may create connectivity issues.
Privacy and data security is another issue. Wary patients point to recent data breaches at several retail stores and wonder if their private medical information will remain private during a video session over the Internet with a provider. Currently, HIPAA compliant solutions are under development so that sensitive information stays protected. In spite of the many challenges, the shift to a more connected society with faster and faster bandwidths will support the move to telemedicine.
Regardless of the the type of medicine that is practiced, proper and effective medical billing will still be required. Just because a patient doesn’t meet a provider face to face, services and expertise are still provided and must be tracked for appropriate reimbursement.
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