The Coming Shift to Telemedicine (Everywhere)

2015 Telemedicine Report from Freelance MD

There is a rise of telemedicine startups everywhere, especially in cosmetic medicine. What might this mean for you?

Silicon Valley, New York, London and Berlin all are investing big in telemedicine, A.I. and big data services. There are massive changes in the US that are opening doors for new services. what does it all mean for a little one-doc clinic in Des Moines, Charolette or San Antonio?

Why is there a need to utilize telemedicine?

Telemedicine makes it easier to keep patient records, track patient progress, saves time (and money) and offers the promise of integrated deep learning for clinical decision support.

There has been a report that patient preference leans towards employing telemedicine. It provides follow-up care for those who underwent surgery and many patients favor that. The convenience allowed for better communication with the physician through email.

Why are some physicians skeptical about telemedicine?

While there are many benefits to telemedicine, it is still faced with criticism. Many physicians are hesitant to adopt telemedicine because of costs. One of the many concerns about adopting telemedicine is the HIPAA. Patient privacy can be breached, especially with aesthetic medicine where photographs and video can be saved or used as before and after media output. Tools and software can be costly, because of this doctors would prefer to stick with traditional practice instead.

When will aesthetic medicine adopt telemedicine practices?

Several dermatology and plastic surgery practices have made progress in using telemedicine. The most common telemedicine method for aesthetic practices are Skype consults. Virtual consults cost less and patient retention is slightly higher.

Another example of telemedicine applicable for aesthetic practices are Virtual (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). Primarily known for its use in gaming, it has branched out to other science and technology fields. Several plastic surgery practices have installed some devices such as VR or AR for patients to visualize the expected outcome of their procedure. Back in 2015, plastic surgery performed through Google Glass resulted successfully. In other uses, scribes send data to physicians via Glass. Expectations to use Google Glass in the practice is huge.

Telemedicine is also not limited to patient care, as it focuses also on the devices you use for your practice. While Luan et al., (2015) study focuses on access to plastic surgery literature, a physician can utilize their devices to use to communicate with patients. In addition, since the rise of smartphones, it is easier to enforce telemedicine. Video messaging apps like FaceTime and Skype can be used for telemedicine.

How to prepare yourself in integrating telemedicine in your practice?

Telemedicine, while mostly beneficial, may be difficult to integrate to a practice especially if it is not telemedicine-ready. You may need to consider these factors.

According to Krupinski (2014), set-up a room dedicated for all telemedicine needs. You will need to examine factors such as lighting and audio and video so you can examine them better. Let your patients feel comfortable inside the room as well.

Choose the telemedicine tools, methods, and technologies you will adopt. As we have mentioned there are various tools and devices for the physician’s use, but you do not need to employ everything. Some examples of the telemedicine methods you can use are Real Time (RT), which you can do on your own devices or through store-forward (SF). A physician can find a telemedicine tool or software online, which one can subscribe to.

Training is important, as studies have shown that those who are mishandling telemedicine tools or software can make patients feel uncomfortable. Train along with your staff so everyone in the practice has an idea how your telemedicine devices and software work.

Most physicians overlook the hindrances and barriers to using telemedicine for easier accessibility. Telemedicine is not just implementation just to keep up with trends, but its convenience and eventual cost-cutting advantages can help save practices.

Download the Medical Spa MD Telemedicine Report here.