As mentioned in an earlier post, 4 years ago Telemedicine was in its infancy, perhaps used for monitoring status of patients with pacemakers... Now, according to this article in the Washington Times, Dr. Kenneth Bird, a Harvard professor affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital, innovated an approach to patient care using monitors and remote access to hospitals to examine, diagnose and treat his patients.
Also, according to the article, patients are wearing monitors that can be remotely tracked and physicians can be notified and/or paged when necessary. Telemedicine (a.k.a. Telehealth) is not a substitute for direct patient care, but rather, it is an augmentation to the existing delivery of care. That said, installation/implementation can be a huge expense (ranging between $2.5 and $3.5 million), so larger hospitals are more likely to implement remote monitoring.
The article continues with explanation of "concierge" medicine approaches, which are light years ahead of the status quo. The benefits to patients is purportedly rapid care from providers, from home or within a specialized, technology enabled facility.
It's an interesting thought, and another example of how technologies can be used to improve patient care if used appropriately. That said, there are likely significant privacy and security issues related to the "transaction" between patient and providers. For more information about HIPAA Requirements, The HIPAA Privacy Rule, The Security Rule, or The HITECH Act visit The Online HIPAA Survival Guide.
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Courtesy of Healthcare & Technology Blog (By: Deborah Leyva): http://www.myhealthtechblog.com/2009/10/telemedicine-allows-for-long-distance-diagnoses.html
Telemedicine (Telehealth) is starting to get the attention it deserves, but innovation will not occur in a vacuum of unsustainable business models. Until self-sustainability for for telemedicine initiatives is achieved and replicated on a widespread basis it will not be as significant in the provision of care as it should be.