Last week we discussed the benefits of telemedicine. Now, we’d like to go into more detail and discuss the ins and outs of telemedicine and telehealth in general. We’ll cover the history of telemedicine and the difference between telemedicine and telehealth. We’ll also look into more information about how it works and what services you can receive through telemedicine (services that we didn’t mention last time).
A Breakdown of Telemedicine’s History
A little over 50 years ago, a few hospitals started experimenting with telemedicine so that they could reach patients living in remote areas. However, the concept of telemedicine, as we know it today, came into conception as early as 1925. Dr. Hugo Gernsback thought up what he called the “teledactyl,” and featured it on the cover of the Science and Invention magazine. The tool that he imagined would use long and thin robot fingers to examine a patient from far away and show the doctor a video feed of the patient.
Fast forward to two decades later in the 1950s, and a few hospitals, along with a few university-based medical systems, began experimenting with ho telemedicine would come to be. In Pennsylvania, two different healthcare centers that were 24 miles apart started transmitting radiologic images via telephone. During this decade, a Canadian doctor added to this technology and used a teleradiology system (interpreting medical images while not physically present) in and around Montreal. In 1959, doctors at the University of Nebraska were able to send neurological examinations to medical students across campus using a two-way interactive television. Fast forward to 1964, and these doctors built a telemedicine link that allowed them to help out at Norfolk State hospital, a hospital that was 112 miles away.
Now, in 2020, telemedicine is used all over the world in hospitals, homes, and private physicians’ offices, and many other healthcare facilities. For more details on its origins and advancements, click here.
Is There a Difference Between Telehealth and Telemedicine?
Yes, there is. Telehealth refers to any means or methods that can enhance health care, public health, or health education delivery by using telecommunications technology. One example of this includes using a public health app to inform the public of an emerging pandemic. Another example includes using a video-conferencing app to educate people about a breakthrough in medicine.
Telemedicine, on the contrary, is a subset of telehealth. It’s clinician-patient based and uses an app that helps doctors treat their patients. For example, a patient could send their doctor a picture of a mole, and they could examine it to give their patient a diagnosis.
A Few of The Top Medical Specialities of Telemedicine
- Teleradiology– sending a patient’s Xrays to a qualified radiologist at another location to get a quick consultation
- Telepsychiatry– allows psychiatrists to treat patients remotely
- Teleobstrectics– prenatal care, monitoring a baby’s heart rate at one location and then sending it off to another
- Telerehabilitation– providing physical therapy remotely
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