How Does Telemedicine Work?

Doctor with a stethoscope. Telemedicine concept

Telemedicine is the next evolution of the healthcare industry, allowing for easy access to medical services for more patients in need than ever before. Telemedicine is the future of medicine that is, in actuality, already here. Telemedicine platforms allow providers from around the country to connect with patients and other practitioners without regard to geographic limitations, risk of viral contamination, or administrative hassles. Below, the telepsychiatry experts at Orbit Health discuss the basics of telemedicine, including how it works and what telemedicine offers.

The Mechanics of Telemedicine

Telehealth sessions work primarily like any other patient consultation or consultation between medical professionals: The participants enter a private room to discuss the matter at hand. The difference is that the participants will not be in the same physical location. Typically, the process will involve setting up a patient portal for the exchange of information and medical records, which can be utilized by doctors, nurses, and patients who access different sides of the portal.

The portal can also be used to set up virtual appointments. Virtual appointments consist of a meeting held via video chat (or telephone call, depending upon the circumstances and the jurisdiction). The physician will be located in their home office or medical office in a different location. The patient will be seated either in a local hospital or medical office, or even their own home. Each party to the conversation will have a telecommunications device–typically either a tablet with a camera & microphone built-in or a computer with a webcam and microphone attached. Ideally, the video chat will take place using telemedicine-specific technology through a qualified telehealth partner, although the federal government has relaxed some HIPAA rules during the coronavirus pandemic to allow telehealth sessions to be conducted through widely-available video call platforms such as Zoom, at least for the time being.

Telemedicine more broadly includes all how patients and healthcare providers can communicate outside of being in the same room. It includes emails, calls, video chats, text messages, as well as the exchange of information through patient portals and telemedicine platforms. Through telemedicine, patients and providers can easily keep in touch and exchange important information without going through the administrative hassles of in-person visits. Providers can easily check up on patients between full sessions, patients can ask questions or seek recommendations on recovery without making an appointment, and all parties involved can generally interact more efficiently up to their comfort level and availability.

What Can You Do With Telemedicine?

Telemedicine can be used to perform all medical functions that can be accomplished through the use of remote technology. While a physician cannot perform surgery or an examination requiring physical touch through the medium of telemedicine, a wide range of other medical services are perfectly suited for telemedicine. These functions include:

  • Patient consultations, especially in the mental health arena
  • Examination and patient diagnostics that do not require a physical presence
  • Review of medical records and diagnostic test results
  • Diagnosing common problems such as headache, sore throat, back pain, or intestinal issues
  • Consultation with other medical professionals on diagnoses, testing, prescriptions, potential treatments, and execution of medical procedures
  • Prescribing medications for many conditions and ordering diagnostic tests to be performed
  • Training and supervision of other medical professionals

If you are a healthcare provider or employer who would benefit from a variety of qualified, licensed, and economical psychiatric care specialists, reach out to Orbit Health to discuss your options for telepsychiatry today.

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