What can Telemedicine do for me?The patient - Telemedicine holds great promise for the patient trapped by barriers to care - distance, time away from work, the transportation system. Systems are in place for home monitoring of blood pressure, asthma care, and hospital discharge follow-up. As always, the cost for the patient has to be calculated into the equation - a ride, calling on a relative, missing work - something that the medicial system currently doesn't figure into the business model. Caring and being cared for by an experieinced physician is the greatest reward for both. Access to specialists for the patient and rural physician is an opportunity for both to learn.
The physician - As physicians we have spent years undergoing expensive training and deferring what many people take for granted - vacations, a family, hot meals, an unhurried shower... We have been able to train within the comfort of our professional peers and have been taught how to learn from our patients. As physicians one of the greatest rewards is to renew the comfort of our colleagues sharing in the caring for our patients.
The Nurse - Case management has become a large responsibility for nurses - medication refills, answering patient questions and concerns, keeping track of immunizations and lot numbers, maintaining our own education. Using telemedicine can help us to maintain our professional contacts with nurses and other health care providers from the telemedicine hub, and is an opportunity for continuing education.
Health Care Administrator - For the Health Care Administrator trying to manage clinics separated by miles, the use of telemedicine for administrative tasks leads to improved communication - the cornerstone to management. The ability to avoid losing health care personnel to continuing education meetings held off-site improves the productivity of the clinics and adds to the bottom line.
Information Systems Manager - It is a strange time when you are both superfluous and in great demand. Strange how Y2K never was the problem - could it have been the preparation of the ISM staff? Telemedicine is bandwidth hungry in its current state but the move toward approving store and forward applications make even storage hungry video look manageable - the ten thousand dollar terabyte is closer than we think but then so are the compression technologies. The most difficult task is maintaining a secure medical record and an adequate bandwidth environment for continuing education.
Pharmaceutical or medical equipment representative/Business to business supply vendor - The opportunity to reach distant physicians and their staffs has made a compelling argument for a model that supports prescription writing and medical education. The new media and virtual reality models make it simpler to demonstrate a product and instant messaging, chat rooms, and videoconferencing make support a simpler task.