Healthy Living

The Future Is Now: Telemedicine

Connect with your health-care practitioners from your kitchen

Though it once sounded like something from “Star Trek,” new technologies in health care have made it easier for patients to receive health services for a variety of medical conditions. Telemedicine, which emerged during the end of the last century, allows patients who live in rural areas or those who do not have easy access to health-care facilities to communicate with physicians and health-care professionals through electronic systems and devices. Now it’s being widely incorporated into service departments of health-care institutions around the country at a rapid speed.
These services can range from patient consultations, medical education, specialist referral services for patients and remote patient monitoring. Telemedicine is especially critical for patients with type 2 diabetes, a chronic disease prevalent in minorities.
A type 2 diabetes patient may transmit his physiological data, such as blood glucose levels and blood pressure, to a physician without ever stepping foot in an exam room. He can check his blood glucose level with a handheld health-monitoring device or blood glucose meter, and then transmit that data to a remote web server via wireless network, computer or cell phone.
This quick electronic communication allows patients to receive real-time medical feedback, advice and health education by logging in to an online program or reading cell phone texts. Patients can be monitored by doctors or nurses throughout their course of treatment.
Effective telemedicine programs can improve glycemic control, blood pressure levels, hospitalization rates and cost effectiveness, identifying telemedicine as a promising health-care innovation for the future. In addition, in 2010 the Obama administration allocated $795 million in grants and loans for broadband projects throughout the country, which will bring service to 900 health-care facilities to support telemedicine services.

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