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TeleHealth Consultation: Connectivity in Mobile Healthcare Part Two

Published on June 23rd, 2014 by in Uncategorized

The second new advent of connectivity in mobile healthcare is seen in the flowering of Telehealth consultation. A recent report was released by Dr. Bellal Joseph, stating the benefits of using smartphones to take pictures and use them in management in emergency situations. In Dr. Joseph’s study, he used a burn unit, and would take pictures of the burn victims and email them securely to an off-duty burn surgeon. The surgeon in turn responded with the appropriate treatment. The next day, the surgeon would come in to follow up; 89% of patients continued on the management scheduled originally prescribed based on the pictures.  The rest only required moderate modifications, not drastic emergency action. In using the pictures, the burn surgeon was able to avoid unnecessary emergency visits to the hospital. Dr. Joseph presents this as “judicious use of resources”, a way to maximize response time and minimize costs.

Hospitals are only getting busier and busier as the world population grows, and not all of these patients have access to insurance or a way of affording the diagnostic procedures and treatments they are receiving. Additionally, doctors’ time must be maximized, in order to efficiently treat all patients with the highest possible level of care. using Telehealth communication is a promising new way of combatting both of these issues. It provides a way for doctors to avoid having to spend time seeing every single patient in person at the whim of emergency, instead offering quicker response time by allowing doctors to judge response actions based on the images on their phone. It requires no new expensive technology, no expense on the part of the patient, simply the personal smartphone of the doctors.

Telehealth consultations present on two scales. There is the kind as evidenced in Dr. Joseph’s research, used for emergencies and rapid response. This kind keeps the on call doctor more available and keeps the response time shorter, as the patient does not have to wait for the qualified doctor to get to them before receiving a treatment plan. Telehealth consultation used in this way has great promise for emergency rooms, trauma centers, EMT use, or any other situation in which specialized knowledge is needed in a short time frame. This system could also be used effectively in large-scale emergency situations, where specialized doctors could not get into the scene, but emergency crews could effectively administer treatment based on Telehealth consultation. The other kind of Telehealth consultation is a kind that is more regularly used already, the more familiar form of cross-country consultation between doctors regarding specific treatment plans. In non-emergency situations, there still often arises the need for specialized knowledge; often these specialists are in different states or countries. Pictures can be exchanged via smartphone, or apps such as FaceTime or Skype can be used to video conference with specialists in other countries. This is an option for patients who cannot afford to travel to the specialist, a common issue. Telehealth communication is a good addition to the range of ways the healthcare world and mobile world are coinciding for the good of doctors and patients alike. With the rapid response time and cheap alternatives that Telehealth communication provides, mobile healthcare gains further credence as the future of medicine.

 
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