Telemedicine: The Future in Health Care

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Telemedicine: The Future in Health Care

Topic Question: Is telemedicine vital for health care delivery?
The idea of telemedicine is not new. In fact, when we get sick we often pick up the phone and discuss our conditions and possible treatments with our health care providers through the telephone. When there is an accident we dial 911 to obtain emergency assistance. These are just a few simple examples of applications of telemedicine. With advancements in technology, the new era of telemedicine will allow the patients and doctors to actually communicate both verbally as before but also visually. Telemedicine is broadly defined as "the use of electronic information and communications technologies to provide and support health care when distance separates the participants".5 This technology has allowed people in underprivileged communities, rural areas, and geographically isolated locations to receive quality health care. However, the application of telemedicine is not limited to these regions. This tool will allow schools, hospitals, and other health care arenas to receive specialty care when needed. Even though telemedicine is a very powerful tool, many barriers must be broken in order for this technology to succeed. There are many obstacles and the main one is the resistance from physicians. Many health care providers are reluctant to learn how to use new technologies; especially the older doctors who work at the rural and geographically isolated regions. On the other hand, telemedicine will allow health care providers to consult with expert in their field in order to better diagnose and treat their patients without any time delays or sending their patients to distant locations. Legal, licensure, confidentiality, and cost issues are other potential barriers to the widespread implementation of telemedicine.1 The health care industry must find the funding for telemedicne with its wide range of applications. Just like any other...
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