e-Health and Online Consulting
Telemedicine - Teleconsulting - Telemonitoring
e-Health is a broad term that covers all applications of electronic devices for medical care. However, the use of information and communication technology in virtual medical refers to telemedicine. The discipline of telemedicine lies between medicine and technology and can be applied in a range of settings, including education, research, public health, administration services and patient care. All parts involved in the process can benefit from this modality: patients, professionals and the medical system itself.
From a technological point of view, the goal of telemedicine is the provision of multimedia services, such as videos, images, data or audio. These new services redefine healthcare processes by improving access to information and doctors, reducing resources and saving time. Online consulting is a growing phenomenon accessible all over the world. Physicians and patients are increasingly adopting telemedicine technologies and realizing the benefits. It has proven especially advantageous for improving the quality of life of patients with chronic diseases, rare diagnosis and those living in remote areas.
Telemedicine includes a range of different modalities, such as teleconsulting and telemonitoring, and different ways of operating. Teleconsulting provides knowledge and advice from experts, whilst telemonitoring is the supervision of the patients’ physiological and biometrical parameters. There are two main process options: real-time or synchronous mode and deferred or delayed mode. Real-time requires the availability of all parts involved during a consultation and is used for emergency cases. Delayed mode, on the other hand, is for non-urgent situations in which patients can receive their diagnosis with some delay, e.g. via e-mail.
A large number of telemedicine applications have been developed. The field of Dermatology can particularly benefit from telemedicine due to its visual nature. Swiss4ward uses information technology to provide medical services, such as online consulting. One example is Inselspital, in which patients can ask physicians medical questions by filling out a form and receiving feedback within 24 hours.
In recent years, the implementation of telecommunication healthcare solutions has been increasing and evolving. Key to this phenomenon is the Internet and continually improving capabilities of telecommunication infrastructure. It is safe to say, telemedicine is here to stay, resulting in significant changes to the way we perceive and use healthcare services.