Telemedicine technologies are seeing a surge in usage due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Providers in some states have reported that call volumes have increased more than 500 percent in recent weeks as coronavirus cases have spread.
As the name implies, telemedicine uses video conferencing and other collaboration tools to enable real-time remote consultations between healthcare providers and patients. While the technology has limitations compared to in-person diagnostics, it allows clinicians to evaluate patients while relieving the strain on hospitals and reducing the spread of the coronavirus.
To be effective, telemedicine requires more than a video conferencing setup. The system must provide high-quality voice and video communications and protections for patient privacy. Converge Technology Solutions is now offering a Virtual Care Technology (VCT) solution that provides agile and adaptable communications and meets stringent security and regulatory requirements.
Although telemedicine was first used in the 1990s, it did not see widespread adoption due to technological limitations. Many of the solutions available at that time did not provide real-time, high-definition video conferencing. Each party had to capture and store video and forward it to the other party, creating uneven transmissions and security and private concerns.
Telemedicine has been steadily moving into the mainstream thanks to advances in communication and collaboration technologies, and cloud-based solutions have made these capabilities more accessible. According to an American Medical Association study, telemedicine usage has been growing at more than 50 percent per year.
Cost savings, increased efficiency and improved access to healthcare services have been touted as the primary benefits of telemedicine. However, the ability to conduct patient evaluations remotely has been the focus for telemedicine usage during the COVID-19 pandemic. Telemedicine helps protect staff from infection while reducing the need for masks, gloves, gowns and other protective gear that is in short supply.
In addition to providing a means for screening potential coronavirus patients and assessing their symptoms, telemedicine helps providers to keep tables on regular patients who have chronic health problems. Video consultations enable providers to discuss any new symptoms and ensure that these patients are taking their medications and following their care plans.
The Converge VCT solution is based upon proven Cisco technology that enables 24×7 communication and monitoring of non-hospitalized patients using both traditional desktop systems and mobile devices. Hospital systems, community health services, nursing homes and other healthcare providers can also use VCT’s two-way audio/video collaboration tools to:
- Provide prompt evaluations of new patients
- Perform regular check-ins with patients
- Continuously monitor patients
- Respond to urgent situations
- Provide a home health option where isolation is medically necessary
- Increase collaboration among facilities, clinicians and first responders
The solution can also be used by organizations in other key industries that need highly reliable voice, video and collaboration technologies. It is agile and adaptable, with the ability to scale as needed to support high demand for remote work capabilities.
Telemedicine is providing relief to overburdened healthcare systems by offering an alternative to traditional in-person medical appointments. Converge is enabling the delivery of an effective telemedicine solution that gives organizations the communication and collaboration tools they need to handle escalating patient loads while conserving resources and protecting staff.