UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS AND HEALTHCARE- THE RISE OF TELEMEDICINE
Unified communications have vastly changed our lifestyles. Health care has also seen great changes in the way it is delivered and received. Telemedicine, by definition means delivering medical care using remote communication technologies. Advanced communication and collaboration technologies can be used by large healthcare providers and small doctor clinics alike.
Although telemedicine sounds a new age concept, it has been in practice in the last century. Doctors and patients have communicated using telephony. Telephony however has seen major technological advancements. With the advent of audio video conferencing telemedicine has grown more sophisticated. It is expected to grow even more by the end of 2018.
So, in this era of cloud computing technologies, we can have health care in cloud too! Internet connectivity has improved. Smartphones and tablets have universally become important part of our lives. Software vendors have built software platforms dedicated to online healthcare. You can book an appointment, carry a videoconference with your doctor and pay for the session online now!
Proponents of telemedicine argue it saves valuable time and money. Instead of waiting for your appointment, your medical care is just few clicks away. And you no longer need to spend pounds on travelling to the doctor clinic. You may subsequently need to visit the doctor physically. Yet the initial triage visits are no longer required.
For the doctors and health care providers too, telemedicine has great cost advantages. Office overheard like rent, office staff salaries, utility bills etc can be vastly reduced. Moreover, telemedicine helps provide health care to remote and rural sites where physical clinics have not been established. VoIP phone systems can be used to establish virtual clinics easily.
Together, time and money advantages create a convenience. For example, you don’t need to arrange a work holiday to see a doctor. Minor medical issues can be resolved in virtual visits. This leaves doctors to focus more on medical issues that need physical visits. Post operative follow ups can be limited to virtual visits if physical check up is not necessary.
Health care dedicated software’s can easily gather data from variety of sources. Glucometers, phones, BP apparatuses and other wearable can be synchronized to give doctors timely updates. Modern collaboration technologies like instant file sharing or screen sharing of ultrasounds and X-rays have also been used to improve health care online.
With telemedicine, doctors are able to communicate instantly with each other. They can discuss cross-specialty cases and/or perform patient referrals easily. Telemedicine has been an important breakthrough in terms of research and education amongst health care practitioners. It is facilitating endless flow of data to patients, doctors and researchers alike.
Many doctors are using telemedicine to supplement their physical practices. However, it is not far that telemedicine is used to establish 100% virtual practices. This will bridge the gap between number of available Healthcare practitioners and their required number. With ever improving unified cloud communications, telemedicine has a bright future.