The Evolution of Telemedicine: Past, Present, and Future
Telemedicine has a unique history and continues to advance significantly over time. While people today think about telemedicine as a virtual means, it may be surprising to learn that it has actually been in practice since ancient times. With the rise of the Internet, it is becoming even more popular today.
Modern-day telemedicine has experienced rapid growth and is continuing to reshape the way providers operate as technology advances. Current options allow for more flexibility and a convenient process that is cost-efficient as well. When preparing for the future, it is important to understand the history of telemedicine and how it is evolving.
Telemedicine in the Past
Although the concept of telemedicine has been further developed in modern times, it was initially used by ancient Greeks and Romans around 500 B.C. Long-distance communication between towns included the use of fires, smoke signals, drums, and horns. While this was primarily used in military endeavors, it was also a method of sharing medical information like births, deaths, and the outbreak of plagues.
The first idea of telemedicine as we know it today appeared in the April 1924 issue of Radio News magazine. The magazine showed patients communicating with doctors via a television and microphone. Most Americans did not own televisions at the time, but it was an idea for the future of telemedicine.
Major breakthroughs came in the late 1950s when medical data was transferred in real-time thanks to video consultations. The following decade, the government supported telemedicine in order to provide medical care in war zones, remote scientific stations, and correctional facilities. Radiology helped prove the efficiency of telemedicine when using teleradiology systems to receive images for consultations in the 1980s.
While telemedicine was commonly used in the mid-20th century, it was not a particularly efficient method until the Internet’s rise in the 1990s. The growth and development translated into increased communication speed, maximized information storage, and standard formats for data transmission. Today’s cloud-based technology allows information to be held on virtual servers instead of taking up space in labs.
The transition to electronic medical records opened the door to even more expansion in telemedicine. Most physicians now utilize EMR software to access medical information for their patients. Additionally, patient portals are available to review lab results, refill prescriptions, and communicate with physicians.
The Future of Telemedicine
The future is bright for telemedicine as both providers and patients are becoming more proficient in using the technology. The Internet is now permanently established in everyday life, and many patients use search engines to research their symptoms before visiting a physician. Reliability of information will likely be critical in the future, as articles may be misleading or confusing for patients.
Since telemedicine has fully embraced Internet communication, many private practices are becoming hybrid healthcare providers. This gives patients the option to visit a medical provider in person or through telemedicine. The process was rapidly expedited by the coronavirus outbreak, forcing many physicians to go completely digital. In the future, it is expected that physicians will have even more options to treat patients virtually.
Prepare for the Future with REM Manager
While the future is unpredictable, making the best decisions in the present help set providers up for success in the future. With the healthcare industry embracing telemedicine, it is important to have virtual options to continue providing end-to-end care in an efficient manner.
For more information about how REM Manager is reshaping the future of sleep care, schedule a demo with a member of our team today.