Due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more Americans have access to health insurance than ever before; creating the need to develop newer, more convenient ways to deliver care. This is especially important to older Americans and populations in rural areas, which tend to have fewer doctors and limited access to specialized care. One advancement opportunity in this area involves new uses of telemedicine.

What Is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine is a health care technique that offers consultations and doctor visits remotely by using secure internet connections. There also are remote-monitoring technologies available that allow the sharing of health-related data such as blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and heart rates, between patients and providers without an office visit.

Telemedicine has been used for years in areas by doctors from remote or rural regions who want to consult with specialists who are located in urban areas. Today, advances in technology have expanded telemedicine’s capabilities to consumer care. Video-conferencing, for instance, is used to connect patients to doctors when in-office appointments are not available. And with the use of remote health monitoring devices that connect directly to the doctor’s office, not only can weight and blood pressure results be sent directly to a doctor, but electronic medication dispensers can provide needed medicine.

Benefits of Telemedicine

There are many benefits to telemedicine. It helps patients who lack care due to a shortage of doctors in their area. By using telemedicine, these patients are able to be connected to board-certified doctors and receive the care they need.

America’s elderly, some of who are homebound or require home-based care, benefit because they no longer have to leave the house and travel for a follow-up visit or check-up with a doctor. With telemedicine and remote health monitoring, these patients can continue receiving health care services.

Doctor’s offices benefit by streamlining patient flow, possibly allowing health care providers to see more patients than previously possible. When a provider already has the information he or she needs from remote health monitoring, an e-visit can be completed more quickly than a full office visit. As the number of Americans who receive medical care grows, these efficiencies will ensure patients receive good care.

Telemedicine represents an exciting advancement in both the efficiency and accessibility of health care. No longer will certain patients who are homebound or live in rural areas be faced with doctor shortages or inability to receive care. With telemedicine, technology allows the doctor and patient to connect and exchange information remotely, giving wider access to quality medical assistance.