Why Doctors are Embracing Telemedicine

Why Some Doctors are Embracing Telemedicine

If you ask a doctor about the prognosis for telemedicine, you will most likely get an enthusiastic and positive response. This technology, which connects medical professionals and patients, has both immediate and long-term benefits for everyone. On the physician’s side, it can expand the patient base, offer financial gains, and position the practice as a leader in this effective health trend. Meanwhile, patients have accessibility to doctors and specialists, convenience, and cost-savings.

Yes, telemedicine is not only alive and well; it’s shaping the future of healthcare.

The business side of telemedicine is also being recognized and utilized by store owners and CEOs of large retail chains. Providing employees telemedicine options adds to the profit line. And let’s not forget offering this technology to consumers at the store level.

Imagine walking into an optical store (with no appointment) and getting a five-minute vision exam. If you need prescriptive lenses or contacts, you will get an email within 24 hours. Actually, you don’t have to imagine this if you go to a store that offers the Smart Vision Labs 5-Minute Vision Exam. This technology is already out there building a strong and very happy customer base. (Dare we mention the cost savings customers achieve in addition to the convenience?)

telemedicine doctors - Smart Vision Labs

Telemedicine has been a steadily growing influence on healthcare, moving from the visionary stage to practical implementation in medical practices and businesses.

The Vision of Telemedicine

Every great movement has a great vision. With telemedicine, the vision is both practical and global. Doctors, being the medical part of telemedicine, helped shaped this advance in healthcare simply because they are on the ground floor of patient care.

The objective of every physician is to help as many patients as possible. Telemedicine achieves this through the management of both time and distance. This technology provides on-demand care or relegates unnecessary in-person visits to the virtual realm. By taking distance out of the equation, doctors can address the concerns of more patients.

But expanding this vision makes it even more profound. People who are in rural areas or those with mobility or transportation challenges still have access to a doctor. Medical care is no longer dependent on a set number of hours in a day or by a geographic radius.

Through telemedicine, patients have access to specialists from around the world. Need a second opinion? No problem through the use of this technology. MRIs or X-rays can be transmitted securely to another physician anywhere and anytime.

Doctors are finding that telemedicine can reach new patients and retain current ones. New patients are drawn to the ease and accessibility of the doctor’s practice and current patients are seamlessly brought up to date with the technology. The end result is a more proactive stance from patients. They are more likely to use the telemedicine platform to maintain health and to address concerns.

Patients with chronic conditions, like cancer or diabetes, can readily access medical care for continuing or follow-up visits. Doctors appreciate having more frequent consultations with these patients so they can quickly spot any changes that need to be addressed. Telemedicine can also help close the revolving door of re-hospitalization by giving patients a platform by which they can voice their concerns.

Now, let’s take this vision of healthcare out of the doctors’ offices and into the mainstream. In-store clinics can give people a real option for receiving medical care. Business owners using this technology can become thought leaders in this movement.

How Thought Leaders Impact the Role of Telemedicine

Thought leaders are at the forefront of their field, advancing boundaries, innovating, and encouraging adoption of new methodology. But a thought leader is not just an idea person. Their expertise in a chosen field must also be recognized by their contemporaries and reflect positively in their finances. This is the key step in moving from a visionary to a true thought leader. Putting their ideas into practice and backing them up with results is what defines the step up from a visionary to a thought leader.

Thought leaders are persons and business owners (or sometimes even the business itself) who are advancing the boundaries in their respective fields of practice. Their peers rely on their current knowledge of the field as well as their ability to predict where it will be going in the future. Because the thought leader’s ideas are actually backed by others, their predictions for the industry they work in are able to come to fruition. Thought leaders don’t chime in on any and every topic just to be heard; they have specific goals and visions for their business and focus their time, energy, and money into supporting these ideas. This targeted approach does more than allocate their own resources efficiently. Fellow business owners trust the opinions of thought leaders precisely because they take a quality over quantity approach to their input, conversations, and advice.

The thought leaders who shaped telemedicine gained support from their peers through intelligent discussions and innovative ideas. They listened to what was working in the industry and what was not working. What were the chief complaints and praises of doctors, patients, and healthcare facilities? The next step was backing up these ideas with a working model that reflected these changes. But another facet was critical; they needed to show their ideas work both as a service or product and as a financially successful business strategy.

An essential element to being a thought leader is when others in the same field recognize that these innovations and changes are going to shape the industry. To accomplish this, the thought leader has to get the other business owners on board. Being respected in the community as an intellectual or visionary alone will not do this. Supporting innovations by demonstrating they are an effective business strategy will. This is where the visionary must really develop to become a thought leader. By backing up their ideas with commercially-viable products and services, other business owners in the chosen field will take note and respond to the changes being offered.

Pink Socks: A community of telehealth and telemedicine advocates founded by Nick Adkins

Pink Socks: A community of telehealth and telemedicine advocates and thought leaders.

 

Thought leaders also need support from the people who will be using their proposed industry-changing ideas. Approval from doctors and patients who are actually going to be hands-on with telemedicine services are essential to gain the financial support business owners are looking for. The product needs to be examined from the client side as well. Something needs to entice future customers into trying the service along with retaining existing ones. And business owners aren’t the only ones who are interested in the bottom line. Affordability is certainly another factor users consider.

The process of advancing from a promising visionary to a respected thought leader benefits the field they work in too. Telemedicine and its fast expansion in the last few years is a direct result of the work of thought leaders. Innovative ideas, backed with support from businesses and users and followed by improved incomes, ensure telemedicine will have a place in the future of health care.

Benefits to Business

Telemedicine’s fast growth results from thought leaders’ guidance. In turn, that rapid expansion of the field supports thought leaders, giving their ideas credibility with improved income to back it up. The varied ways to implement telemedicine come with varied ways to improve the financial aspect, for both businesses and users. Doctors who welcome telemedicine into their practices find it saves money in some areas and generates new income in others. Patients reap the benefits of accessibility; in services that were unavailable before and being able to seek medical advice faster and more often.

One way embracing telemedicine proves its financial value to physicians is seen in improved interactions with patients. This technology allows doctors to connect with more patients, generating more income. But it is not a case of working more hours to bring in more money for the practice. Telemedicine allows the doctor to manage their time more efficiently by directing certain clients to either an in-person or virtual visit, depending on the nature of their request.

Although it excels at being an additional outlet for communicating with a patient, telemedicine cannot replace visits where a physical exam is necessary. However, a patient who needs a quick follow up after a procedure or one without an urgent condition could be offered telemedicine services. The patient actually appreciates this because they don’t want to make an unnecessary trip to their doctor’s office. In these cases, telemedicine frees the doctor up to see other people who had a more urgent issue. Overall, each of these patients receives medical care tailored to their needs.

How Optical Stores Can Profit from the Telemedicine RevolutionTelemedicine benefits more than just patients in the waiting room. It saves the practice the money and time lost when a patient doesn’t show up. Because it often takes so long to schedule doctors’ office visits, patients may not be able to keep that appointment since other obligations may arise in the meantime. A no-show patient’s time slot can’t be refilled so becomes lost time and money for the doctor.

Another benefit is alleviating the reason patients have to schedule appointments weeks out. Traditionally, every patient is getting a block of time identical to the next, regardless of why they requested to see their physician. Directing minor issues, follow-ups, and simple questions to telemedicine does more than open a time slot for a more ill patient. Taking people who don’t need a physical exam out of the queue for the doctor’s attention shortens the waiting list. This leads to new patients who get to actually visit the physician much closer to when they called to make an appointment, reducing the need to make plans they might not be able to keep.

Doctors and Telemedicine

The objectives of both doctors and telemedicine are the same: provide quality healthcare for as many people as possible. Through the use of the technology, this aim is not only achieved, it is reaping benefits beyond that sole purpose.

On-demand access to medical care capitalizes on the issue of time by using it more efficiently. Patients and doctors are not limited to set hours in an office, nor are they bound by distance. Telemedicine seeks to meet the standards previously set forth through an in-person doctor visit with the same attention to details, privacy, and personalization.

It is cost-effective for patients and offers financial gains for doctors who may enlarge their practices. Some doctors see telemedicine as a way to have a second income. But let’s not forget the potential benefits retail stores can see with this technology. Offering telemedicine in chain stores like LensCrafters, Rite-Aid, or Walgreens gives customers a more comprehensive way to maintain their health in businesses which they already have come to trust.

The role of doctors in supporting telemedicine has gone from the visionary stage through the thought leadership process to demonstrate the real benefits of this technology. Yes, the doctors are not only “in” when it comes to telemedicine, they have become one of the driving forces behind this trend that is impacting the entire healthcare industry.

Are you a doctor interested in joining the telemedicine revolution? Apply here to join our telehealth Ophthalmologist network of doctors.

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Is a Telemedicine Solution Right for Your Optical Store? - Smart Vision Labs

Is a Telemedicine Solution Right for Your Optical Store?

Is a Telemedicine Solution Right for Your Optical Store?

Is your optical store meeting the needs of your customers? Do they purchase eyewear or do they leave because they don’t have a recent prescription? And before they leave without purchasing anything, do they ask why they can’t get their vision checked right there, right now?

4 Ways Telemedicine Can Work for You

  • It’s patient-centered.

Telemedicine provides people with a comprehensive way to purchase eyewear, from the vision exam right through to the selection of frames or contacts. Every owner of an optical store recognizes the frustration customers feel when they cannot purchase a new pair of glasses because they have an outdated prescription. Even though they swear their vision hasn’t changed in the past several years, it would be a disservice to their eye health to ignore the fact they need an exam.

But if you could offer these customers an on-the-spot vision exam using the telemedicine technologies, they can be assured of the right prescription and make their purchase as planned.

  • It’s convenient.

“Right now” are words that appeal to every customer. If they are in your optical store, they are looking to make a purchase. If they need a vision exam, “right now” is the perfect thing to say.

And the perfect pairing with these words can be something like the Smart Vision Exam. This autorefractor, made by Smart Vision Labs, is part of a self-guided system that conducts vision exams without the need for an on-site doctor. The technology is cutting edge: advanced wavefront aberrometry that measures vision imperfection. It uses an iPhone camera (making it much smaller than traditional autorefractors) but is as accurate (with a measurement error of one percent) when compared to the gold standard.

When you have technology like this in your optical store, you tell customers that you’re serious about the business of eye care.

  • It’s cost-effective.

Eye health is important to everyone but cost factors into many people’s decisions. Although vision insurance was supposed to level the financial playing field, it only seemed to direct patients to network doctors and facilities without giving them real cost-saving benefits.

Telemedicine changes that. When you offer technology for vision exams, you put the power of choice back into the patient’s hands. This is not only an affordable way to check vision; it’s a way to save money by putting dollars toward a convenient and accurate vision test instead of toward insurance that limits options.

  • It’s worth it.

How Optical Stores Can Profit from the Telemedicine RevolutionYes, telemedicine is worth the time it takes for you to learn the system (very easy, really) and the financial startup costs. Yet, when you have an optical store, the entire profit and loss spreadsheet has another dimension.

It all goes back to the first reason on this list about being patient centered. Optical stores have a mandate from their customers. Eyewear should be available and affordable, that’s a given. But with the use of telemedicine to provide vision exams, you position your business as an educator about the larger issue of eye health.

When people know that your optical store offers a convenient and cost-effective way to have their vision checked, they will know that it’s worth coming to your business for their eyewear purchases.

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Telemedicine Myths and Facts - Smart Vision Labs

Telemedicine Myths and the Truth Behind Them

Telemedicine: Myths and the Truth Behind Them 

How is telemedicine impacting your business? Whether you own one store or are the vice-president of a chain of stores, telemedicine can make a positive impact in several areas from increased customer satisfaction to an overall increase in revenue.

The field of telemedicine has been growing at exponential rates, in a direct correlation with the advances in technology. While this has been considered one of the biggest health trends within the past five years, there are several key elements that distinguish it from a temporary upgrade to a permanent player.

While most changes within a system originate from the top down, (with industry leaders creating a new environment) telemedicine is more of a product of the people than other types of trends. And it all starts with the defining presence of telemedicine.

Telemedicine Myths and Facts - Smart Vision labs
Source: adroitent.com

What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine is the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology. The keyword is “remote.” No longer do the health care provider and patient need to be in the same room or even in the same country. This is possible through the technology for live video interactions.

While it is the electronic advances that make this possible, it is the consumers who make this profitable (and not only in terms of dollars). Telemedicine is almost an extension of what people already know and accept. A majority of the population is familiar with video chat apps like Skype or Facetime. Most people have easy access to a computer or other mobile device. Technology-based telemedicine is, therefore, a smooth transition from apps that have every day use to ones that become more relevant to personal health care.

Who would have thought that an internet connection would literally upend this entire industry?

And who would have thought that consumers would not only actively use this technology but would find it convenient, cost-effective, and worthy to discuss via social media sites?

How is telemedicine impacting your business? If you’re still not sure about the possibilities and profitability, let’s review some myths and the truths behind them.

Myths about Telemedicine

If you’re not already one of the businesses using telemedicine to support your employees and bolster your revenue, why aren’t you? Is it due to misconceptions? Or just a lack of time?

Whenever a new technology or way of doing things appears, in any field, it tends to be met with skepticism. This is especially true when the new service or method goes in a different direction than the old way, rather than just improving on something that is already established. While asking questions is always a good thing, doing your own investigation for the answers is even better.

Maybe you’re researching telemedicine for yourself right now?

A concern regarding telemedicine is that it’s just a fad, rather than the next big advancement in the field. Doctors who have been practicing for decades aren’t jumping at the prospect of devoting their valuable time to learning technologies which might not be around in a few years’ time. Understandably so. These doctors have seen many health fads come and go over their careers.

However, many of the reasons both health care and business professionals cite for not investing in telemedicine are based on old information or popular misconceptions. Here are a few of the telemedicine myths that have gained the most traction (and why they aren’t factual).

There are two main areas of concern which feed the myths around telemedicine: quality of care and financial investment. Partial truths, outdated information, and misunderstandings about how telemedicine works generated these myths.

Quality of Care Myths

Telemedicine is complicated, confusing, or has too many components to learn.

The verdict: only if you want it to be. You don’t have to hire an IT specialist just to offer telemedicine. While there is a lot happening on the technology side, the part you are likely concerned with rests on the user’s side. Successful platforms have simple, intuitive user interfaces. Some telemedicine applications have even been designed using a traditional doctor’s feedback, which might make using it more familiar to you.

The versatility of telemedicine is beneficial for the provider as well as the patient. The many ways to implement it means you can tailor which telemedicine services would best suit your business, patients, and bottom line. All at the same time.

Telemedicine isn’t secure enough to ensure patients’ privacy.

The verdict: not necessarily. Like nearly anything that companies use, video conferencing comes in two types: consumer and business. Consumer platforms are meant for use by the general public while business-grade applications are created for a targeted solution.

It is true that consumer-grade video conferencing platforms (like Skype and its competitors) are not secure enough to be HIPAA compliant. However, telemedicine-specific technology does exist. There are video conferencing applications which were created solely for use in telemedicine and to honor HIPAA regulations.

Telemedicine can’t replace a physical exam, therefore, it isn’t worth offering.

The verdict: partial truth. It is true telemedicine can’t replace a physical examination but not every doctor visit really requires it. Doctors already give basic medical advice and hold simple discussions with their patients over the phone. Telemedicine just gives patients another option for addressing these minor issues.

Besides people with non-urgent medical concerns, telemedicine benefits other types of patients, particularly those with chronic conditions which need monitoring or those who need follow-ups to in-person visits.

Which is a hint about the next set of myths.

Telemedicine Can Help Grow Your Business - Smart Vision Labs

Financial Myths

Telemedicine is a waste of money and resources because people won’t use it.

The verdict: false. It turns out, people don’t like to wait for things, whether it is at the supermarket checkout, in line for a new smartphone, or for health care. Except with that last one, you don’t get to come home with a new gadget or favorite snack. Nearly everyone has a memory of sitting in their doctor’s waiting room for a quick 5-minute visit while everyone else seems to have fallen victim to flu season.

But, unlike waiting in line for a retail store, the time it takes to see a doctor is even longer. The average time to schedule doctor’s appointments in the United States is 24 days, according to Forbes. Major cities suffer even longer wait times.

Once the patient actually gets in the office, the situation still doesn’t improve. A 2015 Software Advice survey found 97 percent of respondents were upset at long wait times at the doctor, even though 45 percent waited less than 15 minutes. The same survey also reports that 75 percent of patients who have never used telemedicine services would consider trying them.

For non-critical cases, telemedicine provides convenience and flexibility for the patient. Providing supplementary care to traditional health appointments is the ideal use scenario for telemedicine. Think of the reverse side of that situation as well. A busy doctor, in the middle of flu season, uses an appointment block to see a patient that only needed a quick follow-up. Using telemedicine, that doctor can see another patient who does need a physical exam and offer care to the follow-up patient.

Telemedicine doesn’t allow for proper compensation or reimbursement for the doctor.

The verdict: no longer true. There are two aspects to the payment issue: ease of reimbursement and concern about doctors being properly compensated for their time.

Laws and regulations don’t evolve and update with nearly the speed technology does. Although telemedicine has been around for decades, its quick growth is recent. It was previously difficult for providers to be reimbursed for telemedicine use but state laws are finally catching up. 24 states so far have “parity laws” which ensure telehealth services are treated the same as an in-person visit. Insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid are recognizing telemedicine services as legitimate and reimbursing them on a par with traditional visits.

As for compensation, doctors might actually be losing revenue by not delegating some tasks to telemedicine services. Doctors already aren’t being paid for the time they spend refilling prescriptions or discussing medical information with their patients over the phone. That time could be spent with a patient who is physically in their waiting room while the routine prescription refill gets handled by telemedicine. Doing so also increases the satisfaction of the refill patient because you’ve created the convenience of allowing them to not even leave their home.

Telemedicine puts doctors at risk for malpractice lawsuits.

The verdict: false. It’s actually the opposite. To start, it is intended to supplement traditional in-person visits. It alleviates strain on already crowded offices while still offering care to patients who don’t need an exam. It saves money for patients and provides a new point of income for physicians. Telemedicine’s growth in recent years is related to these aspects of expanding health care options. Issuing a malpractice claim to a doctor who used videoconferencing with a patient is absurd when doctors have been discussing medical issues with patients over the telephone for decades. The service didn’t change, the technology did.

Telemedicine actually provides some additional protection against malpractice claims. Especially concerning post-op patients and those with chronic conditions, services like video conferencing create a new point of contact between patient and doctor. The patient can communicate with their physician more often and if problems arise, notice and treat them sooner. It also provides another means to document the services given.

How is Telemedicine Impacting Your Business?

Telemedicine Benefits - Smart Vision Labs
Source: i1.wp.com

Telemedicine impacts businesses in several ways. The technology is effective if you are either the provider of health care services or the facilitator of them. Whether you own an optical store and offer the Smart Vision Labs 5-Minute Smart Vision Exam, or are in charge of a chain of stores that need a boost in revenue, telemedicine can work for you.

This is perhaps the most significant change in the health care industry since it is embraced by a variety of people, from patients to doctors, to insurance providers. As business owners already know, implementing a new course of action requires acceptance and easy compliance, and with telemedicine, those conditions have already been met.

Telemedicine is not only profitable, it’s possible, and that’s the difference between failure and success. Making use of this technology adds value to your business in ways that will position you at the forefront of this healthcare trend that is revealing its true potential with every virtual visit.

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Can Telemedicine Replace Your Eye Doctor - Smart Vision Labs

Can Telemedicine Truly Replace Your Eye Doctor?

“I love your new glasses! And I am so happy that you finally got your vision checked.”

Your friend laughs and agrees that it took a while to admit that reading a book with outstretched arms was not the smartest (or most comfortable) thing to do.

“Where did you get your vision checked? Did you have a long wait?”

She laughs again and says that the entire exam was about 5 minutes.

You don’t laugh because when you went to the eye doctor you were there for over an hour.

“Huh?”

Your friend explains that she went to an optical store for the Smart Vision Labs 5-Minute Vision Exam.

“But don’t you need to see an eye doctor?”

Good question and one that a lot of people are asking. Can a 5-minute vision exam replace your eye doctor? The answer is yes and no.

Vision Exams vs. Eye Exams

A vision exam, like the one provided through Smart Vision Labs, is known as a refraction test which measures a person’s need for prescription glasses or contacts.

Eye exams are comprehensive evaluations that include a refraction test, examination of both the external and internal parts of the eyes, and a test of the fluid pressure.

Both of these exams are valuable diagnostic tools to maintain optimal eye health.  In fact, the American Optometric Association recommends that people between the ages of 18 and 60 get a comprehensive eye exam at least every two years.

Telemedicine and the Eye Doctor

Telemedicine doesn’t seek to replace the eye doctor; this technology works alongside licensed ophthalmologists who review the data generated at the exam and to write prescriptions if needed. It would be best to take the “us vs. them” mentality out of the equation. Telemedicine is an effective way to diagnose and offer corrective lenses.

With telemedicine, the doctor is always “in.” With cloud technology, the doctor can access a patient’s records and make an appropriate diagnosis. This is not only convenient, it’s a cost-effective option. People in rural areas or those who are homebound also benefit because they do not have to physically show up at an office for a vision exam. Through video conferencing and smartphone apps, doctor can actually connect with more patients than ever before.

Something Old, Something New

Telemedicine is one of the most significant heathcare trends, yet it really isn’t new. While its presence and potential is literally disrupting the eyecare industry on all levels, it is able to do that now because of the recent advances in technology. Add to that a patient base which is looking to save time and money, and there is no question that telemedicine is able to outperform the older methods of doctor and patient communication.

But should you never schedule an in-person visit with an eye doctor again? No. Have your eyes examined at least every two years with an in-person visit.

But also make use of telemedicine for vision exams. And here’s a secret that sets telemedicine apart from the old ways. People will take a proactive stance with their vision care when they can get an exam at their convenience, without long waiting times, and be able to afford it.

Telemedicine gives power to the patients without diminishing the role of healthcare professionals. And that’s a healthy vision we can all embrace.

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Telemedicine of Today

Telemedicine of Today

If telemedicine is a new term for you, it’s time to be introduced.

Telemedicine is an exciting new advancement of medical treatment, which connects patients with qualified healthcare professionals through remote communication. It becomes particularly useful in cases such as monitoring a patient with a chronic condition, creating access to specialists regardless of geographic location, or to get care to those who are unable to leave their home due to physical or mental health conditions. Imagine how helpful being able to communicate with a doctor through a live video feed might be to someone who suffers from chronic pain or PTSD. They can reach the care they need without preparing for what might be a difficult trip in leaving their home.

Telemedicine is only one aspect of a larger field. Telehealth is the all-encompassing term for everything related to the junction between communication and health care. All telemedicine is telehealth but telehealth includes more than just telemedicine.

Telemedicine is focused on the direct link between patients and doctors. It uses communication technology to allow doctors to remotely diagnose, treat, and provide ongoing monitoring for patients. While telehealth includes this one-on-one type of interaction, it is also used for broader health communications. Something that is part of telehealth only is the education of both medical employees and the public. This aspect involves informing the public about a local health concern or continuing to provide education for current healthcare providers.

American Well Telemedicine kiosk
American Well Telemedicine kiosk

How Does It Work?        

Telemedicine uses the Internet, computers, and mobile devices to give patients access to medical care. This broad definition means the field of telemedicine is ever expanding as people find new uses for it or realize it is a solution to an existing problem. Innovation in telemedicine, in both the technology and medical aspects, has proven useful in alleviating concerns and struggles voiced by both patients and medical care providers.

While the exact procedure differs depending on what the healthcare concern is, the idea is to allow the patient to “visit” a doctor and benefit from their knowledge without having to actually visit their office. The basic concept creates a way for the patient to transfer medical information electronically to a doctor, who will review it and report back their findings.

Practicing telemedicine could be as simple as sending a few emails back and forth. During the email conversation, the patient mentions the wound from their recent surgery hurts a bit. The doctor asks for an image of the healing incision and the patient attaches it to their reply. Is the doctor concerned about the appearance? He might ask the patient to use an app to report their vital signs, looking for signs of infection.

It sounds simple but that is what telemedicine looks like in practice. Which is really the goal. The futuristic sounding terms are meant to achieve accessible and affordable health care.

But don’t start picturing severely ill patients asking an online forum if they should go to the hospital for their broken leg. The point of telemedicine is to get more patients the clinical care they need from accredited doctors. The most popular reasons and uses for telemedicine reflect this mission: relieving demands of time for doctors and patients and continued monitoring of an existing, but stable, condition. Telemedicine is about avoiding unnecessary office visits, not making office visits unnecessary.

How Does Telemedicine Benefit Me?

While telemedicine is indeed a great use of current technology, for anything to be considered successful, there has to be measurable benefits. To better understand these benefits, let’s start with the people telemedicine is designed to help. And that includes you.

Patients have three main areas of concern and they are convenience, cost, and capability. While these things may be prioritized differently for each individual, these are most often cited when asked about satisfaction with the healthcare industry.

Being able to access medical care in a convenient way is one of the hallmark principles of telemedicine. People in rural areas or who are physically unable to leave their homes are at a major disadvantage when scheduling office visits with a doctor. And even if you are not in those categories, most patients want a simpler way to see a doctor when they need to. Scheduling time away from work or school is difficult to coordinate with the often limited office hours of physicians. And let’s not even think about needing a doctor on a holiday or weekend.

The ever-increasing cost of medical care is always an issue. Telemedicine actually reduces the cost through their remote analysis and electronic data storage which require less physical resources to maintain. Telemedicine can possibly eliminate unnecessary visits to the ER as well as transportation expenses for patients who require it. The technology used, while being cutting-edge and impressive, also lowers other traditional costs associated with medical care. It is better able to manage chronic illnesses, and results in shorter hospital stays, as well as lower readmission rates.

The capability of the doctor will always be a major concern and telemedicine addresses this by giving patients better access to more specialists. Patients can be referred to specific doctors, regardless of their location. This technology enables specialists to perform detailed consultations from miles away. Having the ability to access the medical minds of all these physicians might be the most outstanding feature of telemedicine.

Although these are only three benefits associated with telemedicine, patients often mention others like not having to lose time from work to for a doctor’s visit, having their medical information easily accessible through a secure portal, and being able to engage with doctors in more relaxed setting than an office or hospital.

Above all, there is a very high level of patient satisfaction with telemedicine which demonstrates its success to address key concerns and needs of patients.

Telemedicine is Right Here, Right Now

In case you might think that telemedicine is still a thought of the future, you can literally reach out and touch it. Right now. In fact, you may already have used some of this technology though one of these services.

Teladoc is pretty much what the name implies: tell a doctor. But this on-demand service uses mobile devices, video, phone, and the Internet. Yet, there is no donning a gown and jumping up on the examining table. The patient sees a doctor through audio-video technology for diagnoses, consultations, or to receive ongoing monitoring of prescription medication. Teleadoc promises quality care when you need it. And the average wait time to speak to a licensed doctor by web, phone or mobile app is less than 10 minutes.

Teladoc telemedicine

SnapMD uses cloud-based technology to streamline and integrate all aspects of medical care. This is a simple and cost-effective way to access servers, storage, databases, and other applications over the Internet. While patients can see licensed physicians through the use of mobile devices, SnapMD also encrypts their medical history and is compliant with HIPAA privacy regulations. Doctors can view their medical charts during the call which provides more information to make a thorough analysis. On the paperwork side, having the patient’s medical data in a convenient location assists in the process of filing insurance claims, determining co-pays, and verifying health plan coverage.

snapmd telemedicine

BreakThrough focuses on mental health and advertises confidential online therapy from your couch. This service has enhanced the therapeutic experience by providing a wide range of licensed therapists and psychiatrists. It also eliminates the possibility of running into someone in the waiting room, which is often a worrying concern that patients have. Patients benefit from easy access to mental health providers, and can fit in a therapy session at times that are most convenient, including nights and weekends. Research has proven that online counseling is just as effective as in-person therapy.

telemedicine breakthrough

Smart Vision Labs covers another, sometimes overlooked, aspect of health care: vision exams. They offer a 5-minute vision exam that uses the same type of technology designed for LASIK procedures. Patients are asked a few questions about their overall health and then their eyes are scanned. These photos, as well as the data generated from them, are sent to a licensed doctor via cloud technology. If any prescription is needed, the patient can access it through a secure online portal. In fact, prescriptions will be kept on the server, along with medical data, so the patient can review this information. Once again, telemedicine offers convenience as well as quality care for the patient.

telemedicine for eye-care Smart Vision Labs

Telemedicine: Sci-Fi or WiFi?

The idea of seeing a doctor through an audio-visual link or conferring with a specialist in the comfort of your own home has a little science fiction feeling to it. But it’s all real thanks to the technology and the wonders of WiFi.

Health care has been a much discussed topic, from the White House to your own house. Although people and politicians may disagree on the best way to reform health care, everyone agrees on the idea of making it affordable and accessible. Telemedicine has done just that. It may not even be a stretch of the imagination to say that telemedicine has been at the forefront of affordable care years before it was a federal statute.

What does the future hold?  

Telemedicine has not reached its full potential but has started a momentum in the healthcare industry that will be unstoppable. Despite the availability of interactive devices to connect patients and physicians, policies enacted in some states make it difficult for telemedicine to do what it was intended to do: provide everyone with convenient, cost-effective, and competent care. But the success of telemedicine and the satisfaction of both patients and physicians are causing lawmakers to rethink certain restrictions that unnecessarily regulate coverage.

Telemedicine is an exciting merging of technology and medicine that can and will change the format of health care. Everyone on the planet, regardless of geographic location, financial restraints, or physical or mental impairments, can receive medical care by qualified physicians. A wide range of conditions can be diagnosed and treated, from the flu to sprains and strains. Mental health providers can counsel patients in their own homes and vision exams are performed in five minutes with LASIK technology as a diagnostic tool.

Healthcare reform has started and we have only begun to appreciate its success and recognize its potential.

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What is Telemedicine? What Effect Will It Have on the Care of Your Eyes?

What is Telemedicine?

The prefix “tele” comes from ancient Greek, meaning “far off” or “distant.” You’re already familiar with many words that start with it. Telescopes and televisions are devices that let you see objects that are far away. A telephone lets you talk with people who are at a distance.

So what is telemedicine? As you have probably concluded, it means medicine that is practiced when there is distance between a care provider and a patient. And chances are that you are already familiar with certain forms of it . . .

  • If you have had the results of an MRI or other test forwarded to a specialist or hospital that is not located near where you live, you have benefitted from a form of telemedicine.
  • If you have taken an online test to help determine whether you have a condition such as attention deficit disorder, depression or chronic fatigue syndrome, you have also experienced a form of telemedicine.
  • If you have used WebMD.com or another online health service to diagnose a health problem – anything from a rash to a headache or a swollen toe – you have taken part in a form of telemedicine too.

Why Is Telemedicine Needed to Provide Vision and Eye Care?

At first thought, you might decide that the majority of Americans already have access to appropriate eye care. Several eye doctors are doing business near where you live, right? Plus, eye care must be available in the hospitals that are located near where you live.

Those observations might lead you to conclude that most Americans already have access to quality eye care. But when you review some of these statistics amassed by the U.S. government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it becomes clear that there are vast numbers of Americans experience vision and eye problems – so many, in fact, that many of their eye conditions go undiagnosed or untreated . . .

  • Approximately 14 million Americans aged 12 years and older have self-reported visual impairment defined as distance visual acuity of 20/50 or worse. Among them, more than 11 million Americans could have improved their vision to 20/40 or better with refractive correction.
  • 1,600,000 Americans aged 50 years and older have age-related macular degeneration.
  • 3 million Americans (about 2.5% of the total population) aged 18 years and older have diabetic retinopathy.
  • 5 million Americans (about 16% of the total population) aged 40 years and older have cataracts.
  • 2 million Americans (about 2% of the total population) aged 40 years and older have glaucoma.

And where do those Americans live? All across the nation, including in areas that are underserved by hospitals, physicians and other health care providers. That explains the need for eye examinations that can be administered remotely to Americans who live in many parts of the country.

Telemedicine Will Meet the Need

What will bridge the gap and provide needed diagnostic eye screenings to all those Americans? Here are some trends to watch . . .

  • Self-operated vision testing devices, like the SVOne from Smart Vision Labs, will be installed at thousands of locations where they will allow individuals to quickly and inexpensively obtain prescriptions for corrective prescriptions.
  • Self-operated vision testing devices will arrive in stores and other locations that are already widely available in many locations where the need for professional eye care is not being met.
  • Self-operated vision testing machines will gain wider usage in hospitals, clinics, optometrists’ offices and other locations, making quality vision tests available more quickly and conveniently to millions of Americans who do not currently have access to them.

The Age of Remote Eye Care Has Dawned

Can telemedicine meet the medical needs of all Americans who need eye care? Not in all cases, because individuals with certain conditions like macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy will still require the care of physicians who specialize in eye care.

Yet telemedicine stands ready to provide quality diagnostic vision testing to millions of Americans. We are about to live in an age when fewer and fewer Americans will have to live with the burden of poor vision. It will truly be a brave new world of better vision, thanks to telemedicine and advanced vision technology.

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