Telemedicine: where health care meets technology

Facilitator using Telemedicine Equipment

When you’re ill, you likely make an appointment to visit your doctor in person. But what if you’re unable to travel to the doctor’s office? How do you receive the care you need? Telemedicine is an emerging field that enables health care through technology. And if you love to help others and are interested in the medical profession, telemedicine facilitation may be the perfect career for you.

What is telemedicine?

Many people think of telemedicine as telehealth, which involves the traditional telephone call between a nurse and patient. However, telemedicine is different. The Encyclopedia of Health Communication defines telemedicine as “the use of communication technologies to deliver health-related services over a distance.”*

Technology has advanced so much that medical professionals can now collect, process and diagnose medical information remotely. Doctors are even able to perform certain procedures without seeing a patient in person.

In Canada, telemedicine is mainly available for patients who are unable to travel to the doctor’s office, including:

Patients who live in rural or remote areas. Medical care isn’t always readily available for those living in remote areas. Telemedicine provides access to medical care for people living in remote communities.

Patients who require home care. Many patients require ongoing care, but are unable to leave their homes. Telemedicine allows the doctor to come to the patient instead of the patient having to go to the doctor.

Patients who live in long-term care facilities or retirement homes. Many patients living in long-term care facilities require constant check-ups, but there’s not always a doctor on staff.

However, telemedicine is an emerging field that is quickly growing. A demand for convenient and immediate access to medical services has resulted in the growth of telemedicine organizations in the U.S., and has the potential to expand to urban areas in Canada.

Benefits of telemedicine

Benefits of telemedicine include:

  • Convenience
  • Quicker access to health care
  • Easier referrals to specialists, no matter what location the patient is in
  • Potential for more timely care
  • Enhanced quality of care
  • Potential for earlier diagnosis
  • Improved care for seniors with remote in-home monitoring

 

Telemedicine facilitation

With the emerging field of telemedicine comes a growing need for telemedicine facilitators.

Why telemedicine facilitation?

Telemedicine facilitators enable patient-doctor communication. They perform the intake and information gathering procedures in preparation for the remote doctor visit. Telemedicine facilitators use technologies such as Horus Scope, Otoscope and Camera simulators as well as video conferencing. They need to gather pertinent information from the patient and then they will present the case to the remote doctor, who will then correctly diagnose the patient.

With the information the telemedicine facilitator has gathered, the doctor can see the patient’s pulse, heart rate, eyes, and the analysis.

Sheridan’s Faculty of Continuing and Professional Studies offers a Telemedicine Facilitation certificate, which will prepare you for a career in this exciting field. Visit caps.sheridancollege.ca for more information on this growing industry.

*(Thompson, Teresa L. Encyclopedia Of Health Communication. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc, 2014. eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 7 Nov. 2016.)

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