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 distant medical refers to telemedicine. Telemedicine can be considered a discipline between medicine and technology. Its application goes through 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, its goal 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 growing towards telemedicine technologies and its benefits. It is especially useful for patients with chronic diseases, rare diagnosis and those living in areas of difficult access; as it can improve their quality of life.
Telemedicine has different modalities such as teleconsulting and telemonitoring, and different ways of operating. While teleconsulting provides knowledge and advice from experts, telemonitoring is the supervision of the patients’ physiological and biometrical parameters. About their processes, there are two main ways: real-time or synchronous mode and deferred or delayed mode. The first one needs the availability of all parts involved during a consult and is used for emergency cases. Delayed mode, on the other hand, is for no urgent situations in which patients can receive their diagnosis with some delay, via e-mail, for example.
A large number of telemedicine applications have been developed. In the field of Dermatology, it is especially remarkable thanks to its visual relevance. Swiss4ward uses IT to provide medical services, such as online consulting. One example is Inselspital, in which patients can ask medical questions to physicians by filling a form and get feedback during the next 24h.
Over the last years, the implementation of telecommunication solutions in healthcare systems is increasing and maturing. The key factor of this phenomenon has been Internet and the capabilities of telecommunication infrastructure. In a nutshell, telemedicine has come to stay with us and change the way we know health services.