New telemedicine technologies are transforming hospitals across the country by making it easier for healthcare professionals to monitor and communicate with patients. Depending on the hospital, these new technologies are used in a variety of different ways to improve patient safety.
- Improving communications with patients: At St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, nurses appear on high-definition televisions to assist patients. Nurses can walk patients through discharge instructions or demonstrate how to dress wounds. Doctors can remotely consult patients on their medication regimens or show patients imaging testing results.
- Enhancing patient monitoring: At CHI Health, the hospital is using 3-D cameras and advanced algorithms to remotely monitor patients for falls. These cameras and algorithms can predict movements and alert hospital staff when patients are at risk of falling. Other hospitals or medical centers use wearable technology like Google Glass to monitor and assess patients.
- Providing greater access to healthcare: Telemedicine programs at hospitals allows patients in rural areas to interact with health care professionals. In some cases, these interactions can occur from home or at work.
Are Telemedicine Technologies Flawless?
Depending on how these technologies are used, there may be flaws. In some cases, patients need direct contact with doctors to diagnose certain illnesses. Telemedicine systems may have glitches, or interruptions in connections caused poor weather or other factors. These technologies are useful for performing a complementary role, but many would agree it is long way off from replacing traditional patient care entirely.
Despite these shortcomings, there are clear advantages to telemedicine technologies when they are used properly.