How will Telemedicine Impact Healthcare?


By Debbie Gregory.

These days, more and more people are working from home, shopping from home, and even seeing the doctor from home. Telemedicine, the use of telecommunication and information technology to deliver clinical healthcare from a distance, is changing healthcare as we know it.

Telemedicine allows health care professionals to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients at a distance using technology. The approach has seen tremendous growth in the last decade, and it is becoming an increasingly important part of the healthcare infrastructure.

Doctors are linking up with patients by phone, email and computer webcams. Physicians and allied healthcare professionals are also consulting with each other electronically.

Telemedicine is a key component of medical care on the International Space Station. Today’s long-duration and exploration missions require space medicine to fulfill a much wider-ranging mandate and extend beyond minor illness and urgent care.

Additionally, patients are using new devices to relay their vital signs to their doctors so they can manage chronic conditions at home. This is especially valuable to patients in isolated communities and remote regions; telemedicine can offer care from doctors or specialists far away, without requiring the patient to travel for medical services.

Additional benefits include: less time away from work; no travel expenses or time; less interference with child or elder care responsibilities; privacy; and an avoidance of exposure to other potentially contagious patients.

Hospitals, enabled by telemedicine, will increasingly serve as command posts for care. Through continued advancements, the telemedicine industry will grow exponentially, revolutionizing healthcare as we know it today.

The fastest-growing services in telemedicine connect patients with clinicians they’ve never met for one-time phone, video or email visits—on-demand, 24/7. Typically, these are for nonemergency issues such as colds and the flu, earaches, skin rashes, etc.

But critics are concerned that such services may be sacrificing quality for convenience. Minor issues such as upper respiratory infections can’t really be evaluated by a doctor who can’t listen to your heart, culture your throat or feel your swollen glands.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.


Video Conference Therapy Effective for PTSD


By Debbie Gregory.

Telemedicine is the use of telecommunication and information technology to provide clinical health care from a distance. And now, veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) who have difficulties making it to in-person therapy sessions may be able to get treatment that’s just as good via videoconference.

Telemedicine helps eliminate distance barriers and can improve access to medical services that would often not be consistently available in distant rural communities.

Recently, researchers compared home-delivered prolonged exposure therapy to treatment received at VA clinics and found no difference in effectiveness.

“We can now save the travel time and bring the treatment right to them,” said lead study author Ron Acierno, a psychologist and researcher with the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, South Carolina.

The 127 men and five women who participated in the study were assessed with standard PTSD scales designed to measure symptom severity and depression. After being randomly assigned to two groups, each participant received 10 to 12 prolonged exposure therapy sessions, either at a VA medical center or at home by video conference, depending on their assigned group.

Those who received treatment at home used their own computers, tablets or smartphones. Equipment was provided to those participants who didn’t already own the necessary equipment.

The researchers repeated the PTSD scales in two- three months intervals. They found that at both time points, the vets who were treated at home showed similar improvements in PTSD symptom severity as those treated in the clinic.

The at-home treatment scores for depression were not as good at three months, but by six months they were similar to the scores of the group treated in the clinic.

About 33 percent of the at-home group dropped out of  the program compared to 19 percent of the clinic group.

Acierno said participants who dropped out reported difficulties such as feeling worried about losing control during exposures, the feeling they couldn’t tolerate assignments to go out in public and that imagined exposures made them feel bad.

To minimize this from happening in future treatments, Acierno is exploring the idea of pairing peers who have been through prolonged exposure therapy and no longer meet criteria for PTSD with veterans currently receiving the treatment via telehealth to help them through the difficult parts of the therapy.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.