Telemedicine: Will Telemedicine Improve Term Paper

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Not only this but it is also important to examine the ways in which non-physicians would be reimbursed in the field. Needless to say that research in this regard would probably solve a number of problems that most non-physicians find themselves facing in settings other than the one being discussed at present.

One must bear in mind that teleradiology is perhaps the oldest form of telemedicine on which sufficient literature can be found along with the fact that the FDA has been extensively involved with this issue since 1977. This kind of technology basically focuses on the creation and transmission of medical images e.g. x-rays to different places, mainly those that are not easily accessible. The image is transmitted by way of a digital signal and once the image is received on the other end, the expert is able to analyze them, which is helpful in making a diagnosis. Critics have compared this kind of transmission to the sending of x-rays and other such images through the postal service. Of course telemedicine is a lot faster than teleradiology.

The medical community along with the FDA is equally responsible for ensuring that the medical devices used in the process are not harmful to one's health in anyway and that the image being sent is adequate in order for a correct diagnosis to be made within a short span of time. According to an FDA official: "The question that the doctor should ask is, 'Is the resulting image adequate for the purposes intended? If an image will be used for diagnosis, then the clinician must be certain that it has sufficient detail to permit accurate interpretation."

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Those in favor of telemedicine argue that this way of providing health care would ensure that the patients get the required help in time, especially in rural areas where the doctors are few in number and where most people would rather the disease/ailment go away by itself instead of going long distances to visit a doctor for something as inconsequential as the common cold perhaps. Once telemedicine is introduced, these people will be able to receive medical care and attention of health practitioners that are experts in their fields within the jurisdiction of their respective community.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Telemedicine: Will Telemedicine Improve the Assignment

An example of this can be illustrated from what doctor Cox in Kansas feels about the whole issue. He explains that he has established a relationship with a local oncologist and hematologist at the Kansas University Medical Center. These specialists visit the patients in doctor's Cox's jurisdiction twice a month but they are also available via telemedicine on other days: "Thus, we have a specialist available in our town twice a week either in person or electronically. The result is that we're able to deliver more health-care services to the community. In addition, the level of quality at our local hospital is bolstered, so our staff feels better working here. Everyone benefits." It is important to mention here that the expenses incurred by prescriptions and tests through this service are borne locally and so the community reaps immense financial benefits via telemedicine.

Therefore it is obvious that telemedicine is a cost-effective strategy because it greatly reduce health care costs that are incurred by way of tests, prescriptions and other related medical expenses, which most people are unable to afford otherwise. This way medical care can be available to every member of the society simply because the costs are minimized by way of this service.

However there are a number of problems that hamper the progress of telemedicine as a regular service in the country, out of which the issue of reimbursement has already been discussed. Teleradiology as mentioned earlier is being researched upon since the seventies and so has gained some level of acceptance in within health care insurance companies with the result that they are willing to pay for it now. But telemedicine is a relatively unexplored field and so companies are hesitant to be the first ones to initiate anything, especially since it hasn't gained official approval as yet.

There is also immense concern with regard to the medical liability involved in telemedicine. This means that those health practitioners that are not physically present to deliver treatment maybe considered as providing inadequate medical care. It is also quite possible that things could go terribly wrong if a health practitioner is not present with the result that he/she maybe blamed in totality for any mishap that might occur. The doctor could then be sued for malpractice and would have to face the consequences of his/her actions.

It is obvious of course that telemedicine is a developing field at the moment and that there are chances of unforeseen problems that could arise at any time. It is the cost-effectiveness that is scary for most people at the moment but it is also important to remember that with time telemedicine can be just as feasible an option as perhaps e-medicine or something to that effect.

Background of the Problem

Perhaps the biggest problem that telemedicine is faced with at the moment is that virtually no one is willing to invest in it. As mentioned earlier, the cost-effectiveness is a bit too much to handle for most firms and so they are not quite ready to fund the research in the field. There are of course some rural telemedicine sites but that is federally funded and so one can imagine that it does not leave too much scope for further research and development in the field. Technology costs in this regard are decreasing but the fact of the matter is that telemedicine is an expensive field and most companies don't have that kind of money to finance an explored arena of interactive medicine.

There are of course some ways by which this cost can be reduced. For example doctor Gifford recently pointed out that telemedicine would in fact be cost-effective if the cost of the units fell within the $10,000 range. Even though telemedicine does appear extremely exorbitant, at least in the initial phases, the savings do appear during the treatment later on. According to Dr. Julius: "I've seen about 150 patients, and we did an analysis of the first 88. We looked at the cost of their care for the 6 months before I saw them and for the 6 months afterward. As far as we could estimate on the basis of CPT codes and medications and their hospitalization rates, the cost was probably 40 to 50% less for the 6 months after I saw them than before."

Not only this but also as the field expands the rise in savings will be rather immense. Experts foresee price reductions in the future to an extent that the doctors and medical institutions will be able to buy the units and lease them out to individual physicians or perhaps even groups so that more people in the country will be able to avail the facility.

Purpose of the Study

The basic purpose of this study is to discuss whether telemedicine will improve the quality of health care and it's delivery for remotely located advanced health care para-professionals.

Questions that will be answered in the Study

Will telemedicine improve the quality of health care?

Will it improve the delivery of health care to remote areas?

Is telemedicine cost effective?

How can it be made cost-effective?

Variables

Availability of the required technology

Patients response to telemedicine

The services provided through telemedicine

Cost-effectiveness

Geographical accessibility

The Medical and legal concerns involved in the process

Limitations

The information and techniques used to explain the effectiveness of telemedicine can of course vary greatly and depends to a large degree on individual interpretations.

Rationale

This paper will attempt to explain whether telemedicine will improve the quality of health care and its delivery for remotely located advanced health care para-professionals.

The rationale provided by the researcher is based on the fact that medical facilities in the United States is still limited where accessibility is concerned. The introduction of telemedicine bridges this gap between the rural and urban medical facilities. In doing, so the integration of the system would benefit those consumers who do not live in the vicinity of medical health care centers.

Definitions

Telemedicine can be defined as the use of electronic and advanced telecommunication devices to provide health care in areas where medical facilities are inaccessible and/or not feasibly located.

Telehealth is an expansive term that includes almost everything from preventive public health communications to the current medical education programs in hospitals and finally telemedicine itself.

E-health can be defined as the use of internet to provide health care facilities to all those people who are able to access the internet from their homes, places of works or perhaps even through cyber cafes. The Internet in this manner performs a role similar to the telecommunicative devices used in telemedicine by connecting the health care professionals with the patients that are in dire need of medical assistance.

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