Telemedicine is a method used by patients to contact their healthcare providers without physically visiting the health care center while consumer health informatics is a branch of medical informatics that provides medical information to consumers. Telemedicine also is a technique that uses telecommunication to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who are living far away from the hospitals (Wootton & Bonnardot, 2010). It is a process that involves automated communications technology to deliver services that are clinical to patients without necessary having to meet in person. During the use of this technology, regular follow-ups by the health care practitioners of their patients are assured. Also, the control of medication delivery and chronic illnesses supervision can be done through audio and video secure networks. Telemedicine, therefore, is a future strategy being used in the healthcare field to provide health solutions to patients who may be located in areas far away from hospitals (American Telemedicine Association, 2013).
Telemedicine can be divided into three main groups which include interactive telemedicine, patient remote observation, and store-and-forward. Remote patient observation also is known as telemonitoring allows individuals who are suffering from chronic diseases to be observed and monitored at the comfort of their homes by the use of mobile health gadgets used to collect data regarding their levels of blood sugar, the rate of pressure of their blood and other crucial signs and symptoms (Wootton & Bonnardot, 2010).The data and information provided by these medical devices can be used and reviewed by remote care providers at an instant. Remote patient monitoring is efficiently used and provided for those old individuals who do not have the ability to get out of their homes to seek medical care in hospitals hence private caregivers are employed to monitor them in a bid to get tests and examinations done so as to manage the medication they receive.
The second type of telemedicine according to my research is known as asynchronous also referred to as store-and-forward telemedicine. This kind of telemedicine allows the sharing of patients' information from one practitioner to another located in a different locality. The exchange of the information is done mainly through video conferencing. For instance, a patient may be suffering from an illness that is not easily identified therefore a caregiver decides to carry out lab tests and examination to determine the cause of the disease (Qiao & Koutsakis, 2011). To correctly diagnose and provide the right prescription, the care provider decides to share the lab results with fellow practitioners through a video conferencing, and therefore they deliberate on the results and finally come up with a solution. According to my research, this type of telemedicine can be practiced effectively in case of emergence of a new illness in a particular area whose symptoms and signs are not familiar to care givers.
Thirdly, interactive telemedicine is the direct communication established between the patient and the health care provider. These interactions involve conversing through the telephone and are carried out at a nearby fitness center or the patient's residence. For instance, when an individual feels physically unfit, they contact their health care providers through the phone and express what they are experiencing. In return, the medical care person gives their judgment and at times medical prescription to their patient through the phone. Also, a nurse or doctor may be concerned about the well-being of their patient hence they ring them and enquire about their progress following medication (Hsu & Pan, 2013). This type of telemedicine has become popular mostly in all parts of the world and especially for the individuals who live in rural settings because people do not have to travel from their dwelling areas to hospitals, and for the working group, they do not have to leave their working places to seek medical attention or advice.Benefits of Telemedicine
According to research, that I carried out, I found out telemedicine technology is gaining popularity among the people in the country and also the world as a whole. People are increasing using mobile applications, text messages, and video conferencing to get information regarding their health. For instance, in relation to consumer health informatics, the use of telemedicine is cost-efficient and time-saving. This is realized when a patient needs to access some information concerning their health. The individuals turn to their phones and ring their doctors this way they reduce the cost of traveling to hospitals and also minimize the amount of time that could have been spent in that particular exercise (Mistry,2012). Also, research has revealed that telemedicine reduces the cost of medical care through increased and better monitoring of chronic illness reduced costs used by staff to meet and deliberate on an individual health problem as they can video conference and share health staffing professionalism.
Secondly, I discovered that medical telecommunication is as good as the old fashioned health care provision. Regarding consumer health informatics, studies have revealed that the quality of care provided using telecommunication systems and software is equally beneficial to the patient as that provided face-to-face in a health center. For example in particular conditions such as intensive care provision, and mental health care provision, telemedicine proves to be very effective as the patients do not have to leave their homes hence are in constant contact with their friends and families (Moffatt & Eley 2010). This contact provides information that concerns the health of their loved ones and how best they can care for them hence this result to greater outcomes regarding the recovery of the patient. Also, studies have shown that, when a patient receives care in the presence of their loved ones in a familiar environment, they tend to recover at a faster rate than when placed in a hospital care system.
The third benefit of telemedicine on consumer health informatics is that it has eased the overwhelming demand for traditional in- person consultations. The need for face-to-face consultations has been replaced by the request of telemedicine services. It is clear that many consumers today prefer the telecommunication health care system. Telemedicine is important mainly to the patient, their family, and social ties as it reduces the amount of stress imparted to the patient during travel time. The demand has been on the rise because many consumers can quickly gain health information from their gadgets; therefore they derive satisfaction from the method (American Telemedicine Association, 2013). The dynamism that is facing the changing world is characterized by people being engaged fully in their daily activities thus a process that is aimed at reducing the amount of time spent on a concern such as health is very welcomed and embraced hence consumer demand becomes on the rise.
Application of telemedicine
Concerning patient care and decision making in health care settings, use of telemedicine assists living center support. The software is has demonstrated that it can be relied on in dealing with individuals who need assistance to continue living when they are out of hospital settings. Problems of these people arise during the weekends and at night hence can turn to be grievous conditions that may need hospitalization even though the problem is minimal (Wootton & Bonnardot, 2010). My research showed that in the case of such an occurrence, the family and friends of the patient could call in a doctor who will provide a remote visit of the patient and determine if it is necessary to hospitalize the patient.
The use of telemedicine technology is important to parents, teachers, and children. In some instances, a child may fall sick when at school and like the traditional way of seeking medical attention, the school nurse would be involved physically to provide medication to the child or for more severe cases the parents of the child would be called in to take their child to the hospital. To avert the child's parent's distraction from work, some areas have adopted a system of incorporating doctors in their systems (Qiao & Koutsakis, 2011). This is important because when a child falls ill when at school or home, the respective doctors are ringed and thus gives a prescription or otherwise medical attention to the guardian of the child at that instant.
Telemedicine software is also used in the provision of advice on how best should individuals manage their health conditions. Survey has reported that in today's world a high percent of people mainly in the developed countries suffer from lifestyle illnesses such as diabetes and obesity. To control the effects of these diseases people usually get into their mobile applications and seek solutions on how to stay healthy and practice healthy lifestyle so as to reduce the consequences of these conditions (Hsu & Pan, 2013). Also, individuals addicted to smoking and drug abuse, reach out to practitioners for information provision on how they can stop their addiction.
Another application, revolving around telemedicine and patient care provision and decision making involves remote chronic and follow-up visits. These applications are important to the patient because they are assured of receiving medical care even at the comfort of their homes. The software application also is critical as it provides the caregiver information as per the progress and response of a patient to different medications administered (Mistry,2012).The health care providers can manage the chronic illness through observations of the development of signs and symptoms being shown by their patient even when away from the hospital premises.
Factors affecting telemedicine implementation
Resistance to change is the primary factor that is impeding the implementation the implementation of the service. The resistance is mainly faced on the side of the health care providers due to uncertainties regarding their remuneration. According to my research, doctors and nurses are usually paid for the work they have performed according to the record reflection of the hospital's history (Moffatt & Eley 2010).The telecommunication software may seem to be a consultation process through mobile applications or contact using their private cell phone numbers. If not followed closely with integrity, the health care practitioner may find themselves on the end of not receiving any payment. For this reason, many of the practitioners are opposed to the system.
The other obstacle is the lack of embracement of the idea by the hospital setting and management. Installation of technology to be used in the health field is presented as an expensive venture that may take too much time for installation. The application and integration of new ways of the provision of health care using technology have been seen as a hindrance to progressive health achievement as it involves complex procedures of change among the staff members and the patients also because the physical contact is likely to be lost (Rossen, Hannaford, & Satava 2011). During my research, I noted that when an individual who believes in seeing a doctor in person is subjected to a different form of health provision, they tend to lose trust in the system and find their traditional ways of dealing with the problem according to the cultural beliefs.
Another factor affecting the implementation of telemedicine software is the lack of knowledge and skills of how the system works (Brewster, Mountain, Wessels, Kelly & Hawley 2014). Despite the growing demand for technological change in all aspects, quite a large number of people have no idea of how to use technology. For instance, in the hospital setting, when a patient contacts their health care provider for medical advice or treatment, they do so through a call or a text message, but the challenge falls on the practitioner during the process of drug prescription. It is not very easy and direct to prescribe the suitable amounts of medicines, and how they should be used via a phone call; hence this forms a barrier to the implementation of the software.
To conclude, telemedicine is the process through which patients and doctors are in constant contact with each other non-physically. The doctor provides clinical care to their patients through the use of telecommunication technology and software. Patients benefit from this system as they do not have to leave their place of work or homes to seek care in a facility rather they just use mobile applications, video conferencing and texting to reach their care givers. Chronic disease sufferers advantaged as their conditions can be monitored and drugs administered while they are at home hence do not need to travel. The system is in high demand by consumers who derive satisfaction from it because it has proved to be cost-efficient and time-saving. Its application has benefited all kinds of patients ranging from children to elderly individuals hence helping medical care providers make sound decisions regarding health conditions of their patients. The change, however, faces resistance from the medical staff due to uncertainties involving payment, time and also implementation cost.
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