Research Paper: Healthcare Information Technology (IT)

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Telemedicine

Healthcare it

Telemedicine is the exchange of medical information via electronic communication in order to improve a patient's health status. Telemedicine use various applications like email, video, wireless tools, smart phones, and other telecommunication technologies. This has been a rapidly growing application technology, which is aimed at providing remote medical examinations and procedures. When two medical professionals share a case via telephone, it can also be referred to as Telemedicine. This is quite simple, but telemedicine also incorporates the use of satellite technology or video conferencing for conducting real-time patient consultation. In short telemedicine can be defined as the use of information technology and communications in the delivery of clinical care. Telemedicine started over forty years ago when hospitals used to extend care to patients especially in remote areas. This technology has spread and is now becoming an integral part of the hospitals. Telemedicine should not be assumed to be a separate medical specialty. Services provided via telemedicine are normally billed like normal hospital visits, and no distinction can be made in regards to the reimbursement fee structure.

Telemedicine involves patient consultation carried out via video conference, sending of still images from a patient to a physician, remote monitoring of patients, continuous medical education, and nursing call centers Rashid L. Bashshur, 2009.

People living in isolated communities can benefit greatly from telemedicine. This is because they can receive consultation services without having to travel long distances or waiting for long hours in hospital queues. With telemedicine patients can submit their medical data to a doctor, and the doctor will attend to the information at a convenient time. This does not require both parties to be present at the same time. Physicians can also perform remote monitoring using various technological devices. Remote monitoring is normally conducted for patients who have specific conditions, or chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, or asthma. Telemedicine is able to provide greater satisfaction to patients and is also cost effective.

Types of telemedicine

Telemedicine is grouped into three categories namely remote monitoring, interactive services, and store and forward. Remote monitoring allows the health professionals to monitor the patient remotely using various technological devices. Remote monitoring is mostly used in managing chronic diseases. Using remote monitoring, a patient is able to monitor their progress and submit the information to the health professional. Remote monitoring reduces the trips a patient has to make to a health facility and is also cost effective to the patient.

Interactive telemedicine enables real-time interactions between a health provider and a patient Krupinski & Weinstein, 2013.

This interaction can include online communication, phone conversations, video conferencing, and home visits. There are many activities that can be conducted using interactive telemedicine. Some of the activities include physical examination, history review, ophthalmology assessment, and psychiatric evaluations. It is clear that interactive telemedicine provides the same services offered in the traditional hospital visits. The advantage of interactive telemedicine is that it is less costly when compared to clinical visits.

The store and forward telemedicine involves the acquiring of patient medical data, and transmitting this data to a health professional Locatis & Ackerman, 2013.

The health professional will then access the information at their convenience and provide offline assessment. Since there will not be any physical examination, the health professional will have to rely on audio/video information, and patient history report in order to perform a diagnosis and prescribe treatment.

Services provided using telemedicine

The services that can be offered using telemedicine include remote patient monitoring, primary patient care, specialist referrals, medical education, and consumer medical and health information. Remote patient monitoring uses electronic devices that collect patient data remotely and submit this information to a health agency Shah et al., 2013

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. The information assists the health professionals to keep track of patient progress, and they can identify any problem quite early. Using these devices the services of a visiting nurse are supplemented. Remote monitoring is mostly carried out for patients suffering from diabetes, or heart disease. Remote patient monitoring uses devices that monitor a patient's blood glucose, heart ECG, or other vital signs.

Primary care involves the provision of consultation services to a patient using a live interactive video. Using interactive video conferencing the health professional would be able to ask the patient relevant information in order to diagnose the ailment. It can also be conducted using the store and forward method. In this method, the health professional will access the patient medical information at their convenience and provide a diagnosis to the patient. The patient and physician do not need to be available at the same time when using store and forward transmission. In the store and forward transmission the patient will include video clips, images, medical data, and vital signs or symptoms. This information will assist the health professional to perform a correct diagnosis and prescribe the right treatment.

Specialist referral services normally involve the sharing of patient medical information amongst two specialists. If a health professional requires assistance in the diagnosis for a patient, they would send the patient's information to a specialist who would review the information and provide a diagnosis plus recommend treatment. This process can be conducted using emails, video conferencing, or telephone communication. Health professionals located in remote locations can use telemedicine to further their medical education. The professionals will receive medical education credits plus other education seminars. These seminars will be targeted to specific groups.

Consumer medical and health information is provided using wireless devices and the internet. This information is geared towards providing consumers with specialized health information. The consumers can also participate in online discussions with health professionals. The online discussions are used to provide information and not treatment for the consumers. The information provided is mostly for preventative purposes and consumers are advised on how to take care of their health.

Telemedicine for diabetic and obesity patients

There is a challenge to provide support and care that will sustain and produce the desired improvements for patients suffering from chronic diseases like diabetes and obesity Santosh Krishna and Suzanne Austin Boren, 2008.

In order to provide quality care there is need for collaboration between patients and clinicians. Research has shown that interventions involving telemedicine have improved the patient's knowledge and health outcomes. These interventions have shown positive results even in patients from ethnic minorities and low socioeconomic status. Diabetes patients are required to provide their medical information via a website, voicemail or text. This information could be used to provide personalized care plan based on their blood sugar level, insulin dose, weight, diet, medications, and physical activities. Using this information plus the patient history, healthcare providers would be able to provide personalized tips to the patients, which would encourage the patients and provide them with the necessary support Zanaboni & Wootton, 2012.

Telemedicine has allowed for such personalized services and daily monitoring of patients to ensure that any slight change is noted, and treatment is provided based on these changes.

Diabetic patients are not able to visit the hospital on a regular basis and using telemedicine, the patients are able to receive care and support. Studies have shown that participants of these researches have managed to lead more healthy lifestyles and reduce their blood sugar Shea et al., 2013

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. The participants have also been leading more healthy lifestyles, which is an indication that telemedicine has helped them change and manage their disease. Using telemedicine the patients were also reminded to take their medication, check blood sugar, provide information, and participate in questionnaires. These reminders ensured that patients did not forget to take their medication, which is a major problem especially in the treatment of chronic disease.

Obese patients require telemedicine because they might not be able to visit the hospital due to their weight. Patients suffering from excess weight might not manage to keep their personal hospital appointments, but using telemedicine these patients can be monitored remotely, or they can have interactive sessions with the healthcare provider. The treatment provided for the patient would be based on the data collected during their monitoring period and would be tailored to their needs. Also, the patients could be getting inspirational messages, which would encourage them to overcome the barriers of maintaining a healthy life style. Telemedicine can not only be used to provide treatment, but can also be used for the provision of information and educate the patients.

Benefits of telemedicine

Telemedicine has seen a rapid growth in the provision of health care especially to patients suffering from chronic disease and the elderly. Some of the reason for this growth are it provides improved access, it is cost efficient, quality of service provided is improved, and there has been a considerable demand by patients. Using telemedicine, healthcare professionals are able to improve their patient access. This has expanded the reach for health facilities as they can now access patients no matter their geographical location. There is a shortage of health providers especially in rural areas, and using… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Healthcare Information Technology (IT).  (2013, May 31).  Retrieved April 20, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/healthcare-information-technology/4182592

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