Telemedicine, the practice of using technology to provide medical care remotely, is changing the way we think about healthcare. With telemedicine, patients can access medical care from the comfort of their own homes, saving time and money while improving access to care. One of the most common forms of telemedicine is virtual consultations. Through videoconferencing, patients can connect with healthcare providers to discuss their symptoms, receive a diagnosis, and even receive a prescription for medication. Virtual consultations are particularly useful for patients who live in rural or remote areas, or who have difficulty traveling to appointments due to mobility issues or other health concerns. Telemedicine is also transforming how diagnostic tests are performed. With digital diagnostics, patients can perform certain tests at home, such as monitoring blood sugar levels or taking blood pressure readings, and then transmit the data to their healthcare provider for analysis. This allows doctors to monitor their patients' health more closely and make more informed decisions about their care. Another area where telemedicine is having a significant impact is in mental health care. With telemedicine, patients can access mental health services from anywhere with an internet connection. This is particularly important for people who live in areas where mental health services are scarce or who have difficulty accessing traditional mental health care due to stigma or other barriers. While there are many benefits to telemedicine, there are also limitations to be aware of. For example, telemedicine may not be suitable for all medical conditions or situations, and there may be limitations to the types of treatments that can be provided remotely. Overall, however, telemedicine is an exciting development in healthcare that has the potential to improve access to care, reduce costs, and improve health outcomes for patients around the world. *Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay
The total cost in lost working time of UK employees travelling to appointments with their doctors last year was a staggering £1.5bn, new research reveals. According to a report published by health insurance firm AXA PPP Healthcare, online General Practitioner (GP) appointments could play a significant role in boosting efficiencies across both business and healthcare. The report, produced by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), suggests that if virtual appointments were used in the first instance, the number of face-to-face GP appointments conducted last year could have been reduced by 50m. In addition, virtual appointments eliminate the need for patients to travel, thus reducing their chances of being exposed to the novel coronavirus. Furthermore, they allow GPs to reduce their risk of exposure too. The CEBR report also highlights how online consultations, which can be more easily booked, amended, and cancelled, would help reduce the number of missed appointments. NHS Digital figures show that this is an issue, with one in 20 GP appointments recorded as ‘did not attend’ in 2019. By enabling patients to more easily manage appointments, online GP services could free up the equivalent of 60 years of GP consultation time per year. Whether the prevalence of virtual GP services continues to grow once the COVID-10 pandemic is over remains to be seen. What is certain is that they are playing a vital role as the crisis continues.