FOR EVERY COMPANY looking to position itself as an innovator, ‘telemedicine’ has become a buzzword. Telemedicine describes the delivery of health care services using communication technologies, when the patient and doctor are not physically in the same location.
Yet there is deep confusion. Companies don’t know where the line separating telemedicine and other forms of health care delivery begins and ends. And lately, I have even heard the term creeping in to descriptions of our forward-thinking developments at Advanced Tissue. I wanted to set out the distinction as we see it – and why I believe we are taking things to a higher level.
What are the advantages of telemedicine?
On the face of it, telemedicine is a great idea. It allows for seamless interaction between patient and clinician, at the convenience of both parties. The only difference is that they are connected by phone, or the web. Telemedicine does not require the patient to be engaged with up-to-the-minute technology.
This is great for patients who are too sick to get to the doctor’s office, those who live far away, or who don’t have the time or resources to travel. It’s especially useful for those who are looking for more advanced or specialized care than they can access locally. Arguably telemedicine makes it easier for health care to reach rural communities, the elderly and infirm, and those suffering from chronic loneliness.
What are the limits of telemedicine?
It’s common knowledge that proper medical care is delivered through eyes and hands, as taught in medical schools across the globe. Most doctors agree that their first assessment of a patient is based on what they can see. A clinical visit, or another form of diagnostic capture performed through a video connection – even when supported by digitally connected labs – seems insufficient and impersonal.
In order to develop a relationship built on trust, and to grow a patient’s understanding of how to take care of themselves, that patient needs to have meaningful, one-to-one interaction with their doctor. While some argue that telemedicine is less “intrusive”, the trust issue in American health care is significant, and it is only likely to worsen if telemedicine becomes the norm. Ultimately, the clinician will take on the identity of yet another online support person.
What does Advanced Tissue do differently?
Whether it’s poor health literacy, limited access to technology, or an unwillingness to engage with personal health, there are multiple barriers to giving patients the information they need to take control of their own destiny. Telemedicine does little to address this.
Advanced Tissue takes an approach which puts the patients’ needs first. Our platform is one that delivers relevant content to the patient to support what was discussed or prescribed in person. By the time we are involved, clinical guidance has already been delivered to the patient.
We supply wound care products in specific bundles – taking into consideration category, size and brand – which are easy to use. The ‘televisual’ aspect relates to our video tutorials, which show patients how to apply their products, and how to prevent their symptoms from worsening. We believe that clear, concise and specific illustration is an incredibly effective means of empowering the patient.
Currently these tutorials are accessed by scanning the QR code printed on your wound care package using your smart phone or tablet device. This enables the patient to access critical information immediately and avoid the scheduling issues inherent in telemedicine.
But our new development, which will see guidance provided through video postcards delivered alongside the wound care supplies, removes another barrier by making it even easier for the patient to engage. It is a common sense approach to a complex problem, and it will give patients the opportunity to Make The Informed Choice when it comes to their health.