Health care is changing rapidly, so we must change with the times to develop more efficient, practical, cost-effective, and, importantly, high-quality methods to care for patients.
Teaching medical students optimal patient care requires face-to-face interaction to collect information on the patient’s history and perform the physical examination.
However, management of many patients, especially those with chronic diseases, does not always require physical examination.
Dr Corey Siegel and colleagues from New Hampshire, USA investigated whether telemedicine offers an opportunity to take advantage of technology while leveraging the progressive push toward efficiency and value, but also requires the belief that excellent patient care is not always provided in person.
|Telemedicine can include teleconsultation|
The team report that telemedicine can include a variety of aspects of patient care adapted to be performed remotely, such as telemonitoring, tele-education, teleconsultation, and telecare.
All of these have been evaluated in gastroenterology practice, and have demonstrated feasibility and patient preference but have produced mixed results regarding patient outcomes.
By combining telemedicine tools and new care models, the researchers find that chronic disease management can be redesigned to include fewer in-person visits when patients are well yet increase access for patients who need to be seen.
Dr Siegel's team comments, "This change could lead to higher-value care by improving the experience of care, decreasing costs, and improving the health of the population."
"Barriers include reimbursement, licensing, and fear of litigation."
"However, if we hope to meet the needs of patients within our changing health care system, telemedicine should be incorporated into our strategy."