Telemedicine is gaining in popularity, enabled by advances in telecommunications technology. Now you can “visit” your healthcare provider remotely, saving time and money while doing so. While we don’t advocate virtual medicine for emergency or other urgent situations, many medical appointments can be handled efficiently and effectively via telemedicine.


Telemedicine or telehealth? These terms are not interchangeable. Telemedicine, or “healing from a distance,” refers to the use of technology to provide medical treatment to patients via remote access. Telehealth, on the other hand, is the umbrella term for promoting patient care and physician education. It includes not only telemedicine, but also non-clinical support such as appointment scheduling, medical education for patients and physicians, and public health and healthcare administration.


The infographic below, What’s Up, Doc? A Guide to Telemedicine, offers a brief overview of telemedicine: what it is, the benefits, making and “attending” appointments, and when to use it. It cannot be noted strongly enough that telemedicine is not a replacement for face-to-face healthcare; rather, it is a convenient and cost-effective alternative to some in-person doctor visits.


Patients use remote visits to discuss chronic conditions, show a rash, ask for guidance about treating an injury, manage their meds, receive advice about minor illnesses, and check in after surgery or a hospital stay. And they do this from the comfort of their own homes!


Telemedicine is particularly useful during a disaster. When healthcare professionals are directed to caring for those at the scene of a disaster — and rightly so! — they are less available to consult with and treat those with relatively minor ailments. If your illness or condition can be handled remotely, isn’t that preferable than taking a physician away from treating those with the most dire needs?

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Virtual visits aren’t the only way to take advantage of the benefits of telemedicine. Healthcare providers use telemedicine technology to download and review data from patients’ mobile medical devices. Plus, doctors can forward a patient’s medical records quickly and easily to physicians and specialists in other locations.


Do patients like telemedicine? Yes! They love the convenience, the cost savings, the time savings. Studies have shown that the majority of patients are more concerned with access to healthcare than whether they see the provider in the office, and that a remote visit is often as good as an in-person  interaction — in the right circumstances, of course.


Before you decide that you need or want to use telemedicine for your next healthcare visit, be sure to find out if and how your provider offers it — so you’re ready to get started when the need arises.


Continue reading to learn more about this convenient alternative to in-person doctor visits.

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Graphic created by USA Vein Clinics, now offering telemedicine vein consultations.