Let’s Get to Work – Understanding Telemedicine

There’s no doubt that the use of telemedicine to provide more accessible and improved healthcare is increasing.  Entities that employ this digital trend that provide care to patients range from nursing facilities, hospitals in urban settings, as well as clinics in rural areas with limited resources.  But, the general public may not yet be fully acquainted with what telemedicine is and how it’s used.

So, why use telemedicine? Well, it can provide “faster access to the health professional, increased convenience, and time savings for patients, improved equity of access to care between and within regions previously denied because of such factors as socioeconomic constraints, especially in countries in the developing world, and the tendency for specialized services to be centralized in urban centers, improved access between and within primary, secondary and tertiary care, [and] improved quality of care.” (Hjelm, 2015).

Let’s take a look inside the future of telemedicine…

This video does a great job of giving insight into telemedicine.  However, this digital method of care does not have to be as high tech.  For example, another way telemedicine is making its mark in healthcare is through text messaging.  This article reviews the use of this means of communication in healthcare: Mobile phone messaging for facilitating self-management of long-term illnesses.  Here’s a quick excerpt from it:

  • Mobile phone messaging for facilitating self-management of long-term illnesses (this review);
  • Mobile phone messaging for communicating results of medical investigations (Gurol-Urganci 2012);
  • Mobile phone messaging for preventive health care (Vodopivec-Jamsek 2012);
  • Mobile phone messaging reminders for attendance at healthcare appointments (Car 2012);

As we continue the journey of getting to know telemedicine better, let’s take a look at how it can lend a hand in remote areas that have limited access to healthcare resources. And, it should be noted that it has been working on breaking into healthcare for some time now.  In fact, “Telemedicine has been considered a potential method of healthcare delivery for both Native American and Alaskan Inuit reservations through the Indian Health System (IHS) since the early 1970s.” (Kruse, 2016).

Because populations in remote areas tend to be insulated, quick access to healthcare can be limited.  In addition, disease patterns and treatments can differ from more bigger cities. For example, dietary customs of Native Americans include consumption of foods with a high fat content.  This can result in obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Therefore,  “Important modifications for a telehealth encounter might include a family-based visit, references to spirituality, community education sessions, and discussion of specific information regarding the health problems and needs of the reservation as a whole (e.g., substance abuse, diabetes, obesity, etc.).” (Kruse, 2016). Furthermore,  everything from cost, quality, and access of healthcare faces unique considerations. Read more about it here: Telemedicine Use in Rural Native American Communities in the Era of the ACA: a Systematic Literature Review

So, let’s talk numbers now.  How often does telemedicine facilitate patient visits and care?  For this, we turn to our friends up north, Canada. According to the article Clinical telemedicine utilization in Ontario over the Ontario telemedicine network, OTN is an exemplar of how telemedicine can provide an extensive range of medical services over large geographic areas with services that are integrated and incentivized within existing physician payment models.” (O’Gorman, 2016).  In this same article,  data can be found that was collected on telemedicine network facilitated patient visits.  The results were as follows:


This illustrates the growing trend that telemedicine has become.  Read more about this here: Telemedicine in Ontario

Hopefully, after learning more about how telemedicine is being used,you have a better understanding of its benefits.  Becoming more familiar with the many forms telemedicine can take will allow patients and healthcare practitioners to make the most of its use. It is through understanding and research that it will continue to grow and become more mainstream.


  1. de Jongh, T., Gurol-Urganci, I., Vodopivec-Jamsek, V., Car, J., Atun, R. (2007). Mobile phone messaging for facilitating self-management of long-term illnesses. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2012, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD007459. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007459.pub2
  2. Hjelm, N. M. (2005). Benefits and drawbacks of telemedicine. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 11(2) 60-70.
  3. Kruse, C. S., Bouffard, S., Dougherty, M., Stewart-Parro, J. (2016). Telemedicine use in rural Native American communities in the era of the ACA: a systematic literature review. Journal of Medical Systems, 40, 45. doi: 10.1007/s10916-016-0503-8
  4. O’Gorman, L. D., Hogenbirk, J. C., Warry, W. (2015). Clinical telemedicine utilization in Ontario over the Ontario telemedicine network. Telemedicine and E-Health, 22(6), 473-479. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2015.0166

The Pros, Cons & Evolution of Telemedicine

As with anything, the positives and the negatives of a situation need to be explored in order to not only address challenges, but to get the most benefit from the positives.  Initially, telemedicine took on the form of phone consultations. As it has evolved, telemedicine now utilizes videoconferencing and text messages to interact with patients and address certain healthcare needs.

In a 2005 article in the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, certain reservations about the success of telemedicine were explored. “The fact that telemedicine might have great potential for improving healthcare delivery does not necessarily mean that it will be implemented.” (Hjelm, 2005). Ten years later, health institutions such as nursing homes utilize telemedicine to decrease hospitalization in their geriatric population.

According to an article for the Association of Healthcare Journalists, “Potentially Avoidable Hospitalizations (PAH) among nursing home residents are costly, expose residents to additional health risks and exact a toll on patients and families.” (Seegert, 2015). The use of telemedicine helps reduce additional insurance payouts and decreases the risk of health complications due to compromised immunity in older populations. The many benefits of incorporating telemedicine in healthcare are continually being proven. Everything from chronic disease management, access to healthcare in rural areas with limited resources, to nursing home facilities support the growth of telemedicine.

But, if you want to delve into other ways telemedicine is being used, we should take a look at acute injury.  This review on literature relating to this topic gives you detailed information on the subject.  It gives you extensive information on how accurate its use was and how different specialists made use of it. Take a look at it here: Using Telemedicine in Acute Injuries.

Now, on to some of the negative aspects of telemedicine. Hjelm does a good job of exploring this.

For example, it can lead to:

  • The “breakdown i the relationship between health professional and patient.
  • A breakdown in the relationship between health professionals.
  • Issues concerning the quality of health information.
  • Organizational and bureaucratic difficulties.

Read more about them here: Benefits and Drawbacks of Telemedicine

If you would like to explore this topic more in depth, visit my Resources Page for scholarly articles that have been carefully curated in order to ensure accuracy.  You can also Contact Me for further discussion.


  1. Hjelm, N. M. (2005). Benefits and drawbacks of telemedicine. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 11(2) 60-70.
  2. Seegert, L. (2015).  How nursing facilities use telemedicine to reduce hospital readmissions.  Association of Health Care Journalists. Retrieved from: http://healthjournalism.org/blog/2015/08/how-nursing-facilities-use-telemedicine-to-reduce-hospital-readmissions/

#telehealth #telemedicine #resourcestelemedicine #digitaltrends #healthcare #digitalhealthcare

Communication Professionals & Digital Trends in Healthcare

As a communications specialist, research and knowledge in modern digital trends is essential to any field.  Healthcare is no exception to the gains technology provides .  Proficiency in telemedicine can have a profound impact on patients and providers alike.  The use telemedicine can help alleviate physician and nurse shortages in both urban and rural settings.  It can also provide a solution to the various challenges patients face because of socioeconomic circumstances.

However, without proper communication of the nuances and intricacies of telemedicine, users may not experience its full potential.  Research and knowledge on the topic of telemedicine by a professional communicator would enhance their brand because they can assist in the smooth implementation of telehealth systems.  For example, through formatting of educational material for patients.  They can also help providers identify the best methods to translate patient assessments and recommendations in a manner that is clear, concise, and with a different spin to medical and technical jargon that can oftentimes be overwhelming to a patient.

Why Telemedicine Is Gaining Momentum In Healthcare

Advancements in digital technology transcend industries.  They make production easier and more efficient.  Education becomes more flexible.  Networking among professionals becomes more effective.  In healthcare, providers have unprecedented ease of access to patient health records through Electronic Health Records programs.  Patients can now manage chronic illness and work with healthcare providers through telemedicine.

In 2012, Dr. Noah Craft, UCLA dermatologist, described how telehealth technologies are tools to improve access to care, improve patient outcomes, and control health care costs.  Take a look at this award winning video on #Telehealth: The Tools for 21st Century Healthcare