Telemedicine Coverage in Patient Management
Human medicine is changing fast, and the method available for delivering reliable healthcare services are rapidly evolving. With an exploding global population, medics keep experimenting with innovative ways of reaching more people on time. As it appears, the conventional method of scheduling a clinic appointment for all patients in need of medical care is tiring, expensive, and time-consuming. On the contrary, the remote delivery of healthcare to patients is fast, reliable, and reduces the medical workforce’s burden.
Telemedicine basically involves the use of virtual technology-based platforms in the delivery of information relating to disease management, patient evaluation, medical care, and disease prevention. The basic workflow of a telemedicine platform primarily includes a team of online doctors, a pool of subscribed patients, and a digital health technology service provider. An online doctor can easily transmit information relating to medical care to the patient, concerning a wide range of diseases from urinary tract infections to bronchitis. This real-time connection is facilitated by digital technology and an advanced two-way communication system provided by the digital health technology service provider. By providing a shortcut around the conventional patient-doctor hospital appointments, telemedicine allows the online doctor to directly handle any non-emergency cases presented by the patient.
Basically, online doctors are certified professionals with expertise in patient management. While this arrangement does not necessarily replace an actual hospital visit, it is currently considered the most effective patient-centered approach to handling minor health conditions that require no hospitalization. In essence, online doctors remotely evaluate a patient, make an accurate diagnosis, issue an online prescription, order lab tests, formulate a therapy plan, and directly monitor a patient’s response to therapy. An online doctor’s range of diseases can manage to include skin infections, alcoholism, erectile dysfunction, allergies, conjunctivitis, urinary tract infections, and poorly-controlled high blood pressure.
Regulations Guiding of Online Doctor Service Providers
The establishment of healthcare facilities follows some regulations as set by regional agencies or governmental committees supervising healthcare delivery. And as expected, the formation of an online doctor service is subjected to many regional rules guiding the use of communication technology or the remote delivery of healthcare to the general population. In many regions, the criteria to be fulfilled in establishing these platforms are made to directly address the issues of professional certifications, licensing, protection of medical records, and the prevention of medical misinformation.
A team of medical professionals might be required to obtain a special permit that allows the dissemination of medical information through audio-visual formats. This special license approves a proposal to run an independent healthcare delivery system with little or no governmental interference. In addition, the online team of healthcare providers might be required by law to obtain special certifications that complement their medical qualifications and affirms their expertise in special patient care plans. The licensing agreement might also expressly affirm State laws that protect patients’ anonymity and ultimately offer a blanket cover for all privileged information supplied by the patients.
The rule and regulations guiding an online doctor service are not fixed or the same across different regions. In many cases, these rules are dependent on the type of telemedicine services offered by the team of online doctors. Currently, the most widely recognized types available include synchronous, asynchronous, and remote monitoring. The synchronous telemedicine service captures the real-time dissemination of medical information to a pool of registered patients. The service’s two-way communication system allows real-time sharing of medical information between an online doctor and a patient.
The nonsynchronous service type captures the exchange of medical information between an online doctor and patient in a recorded format. A patient sends medical data to the online doctor and awaits a report on medical evaluation. The data sent by patients using these service types include a list of symptoms observed, results of lab tests, medication history, surgical history, and images. The remote monitoring service types are considered the most innovative of all. With this service type, the exchange of medical information between an online doctor and a patient occurs in real-time, and advanced technologies facilitate the exchange in audio-visual prompts. The online doctor simply collects the information needed for evaluation and completes the consultation online.
Online Medical Service and Online Prescriptions
Generally, the goal of telemedicine and, by extension, every online healthcare service provider is to remotely deliver reliable healthcare services to patients. Although online doctors mostly handle minor health conditions and cases requiring no form of hospitalization, the end result improves a patient’s overall well-being. This explains why the issuance of online prescriptions is a common service provided by most online doctors. To initiate therapy and track response to therapy, patients are placed on different drugs that are procured through a remotely-generated prescription. These prescriptions are transmitted over a secured network to a certified pharmacy for filling.
The types of e-prescriptions that can be generated by an online doctor are, to a large extent, determined by State laws governing the operations of online healthcare service providers. These laws state the quantity, types, strength, and dosage of drugs that can be remotely-ordered without an in-person appointment or a physical doctor-patient appointment. In many cases, OTC drugs used in the management of non-severe health conditions are allowed. By extension, many State laws also approve the remote prescribing of antibiotics, statins, thyroid medications, contraceptives, antacids, and ointments. These drugs are essential and can be safely administered without the supervision of a medical practitioner.
Medications that are strictly limited to in-person hospital appointments and as such unavailable for remote prescription under many state laws include injections, psychoactive drugs, anabolic steroids, benzodiazepines, cannabis-derived drugs, cardiotonic, and stimulants. Many of these have an addictive tendency and, as such, requires the direct supervision of a medical professional before administration. Many of these drugs also have unpredictable pharmacokinetics. This means that a slight overdose can be lethal or cause a side effect that requires urgent medical care. As such, these drugs are mostly prescribed during hospital appointments.
With time, it is expected that many health agencies around the globe will endorse the remote delivery of healthcare. Telemedicine is also expected to evolve rapidly and fill the space created by the conventional doctor-patient hospital appointments while reaching many patients almost at the same time.