The discussion and enthusiasm that has been generated on telemedicine are focused on the possibility of remote visits and consultations and the care of patients at home. However, telemedicine is not just that.
There is little talk, for example, of urgent-telemedicine, emergency which plays a crucial role in the early treatment of time-dependent diseases such as ischemic stroke and acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Yet, in this case, we are in a context where telemedicine has a decisive impact on the outcome and prognosis of these pathologies that affect a large number of people. Without wishing to take anything away from televisit and teleconsultation, it seems clear to me that this application should have the highest priority.
I have already spoken on this blog about televisits and teleconsultations. In order to make a medical clinic virtual, a videoconferencing system is not enough, but a series of functionalities are needed, ranging from access to the service to the administrative requirements.
In order to visit from a distance, you may also need medical devices that allow the doctor to see, hear and measure certain parameters, such as the one we have talked about here.
To redesign the hospital network, telediagnostics, telesurgery and telecooperation are three important applications that allow to share, at a distance, professionalism, resources and skills. If you really want to introduce new care models based on tele-health, for example the Chronic Care Model, it is essential, in order to find the necessary resources (economic and personal), to specialize hospital and health care facilities, avoiding duplication. In this field the telemedicine applications I have just mentioned are essential.
I understand that some telemedicine applications are less “popular” than others, but it is essential to reason with the whole picture in mind, so as to decide where and how to invest.
Let us not forget that telemedicine, too, must not be pursued as a technology or an end in itself.