How Telemedicine can help in Addiction Treatment and Recovery?

Telemedicine is the clinical use of long-distance technology in diagnosing and treating patients over the phone. It comes in very handy in cases of remote areas where providing medical attention to residents is not easy. One of the first uses of telemedicine was in psychiatric wards, where camera systems were set up so professionals could observe patient behavior.

Today, because of the advancements in video and internet technologies, the extent to which doctors can help remote patients has improved significantly.

The Importance of Telehealth Services During COVID-19

The need for remote medical services became much more pronounced after the pandemic began because social distancing became the new norm, and as things got worse, keeping medical healthcare professionals safe became a top priority. But the kind of social isolation and loneliness people have been subjected to as a result of lockdowns and quarantine has proved to be a breeding ground for substance abuse disorders.

There has been a notable increase in the need for long-distance addiction therapy during Covid-19 than has ever been seen before. Quarantine has also been a massive hindrance for people who were in recovery because any plans to stop addictive tendencies that were previously in place were interrupted.

This has taken people right out of their recovery phase and back into their addict mindset. Because self-isolation is so stressed upon during the pandemic in-person group therapy sessions, which helped a lot of individuals, have also been discontinued.

However, because healthcare professionals are starting to rely more and more on telehealth and telemedicine services, organizations like AA and NA have been pushing for more virtual meeting opportunities for patients. Even for people who are in recovery, these kinds of daily meetings or check-ins could be monumental for their success.

Telemedicine Rehabilitation Services

Telerehabilitation is the virtual delivery of rehabilitation services to patients in the comfort of their homes. Accomplished through visual and audio technology, telemedicine has proved to be quite an effective replacement for regular therapy. The fact that it can overcome any geographical, physical and cognitive barriers is a huge milestone, especially in the present circumstances.

Because technology is constantly developing and improving, doctors and patients both have more apps to not only stay in touch but also to stay on top of their progress. Therefore, integrating a telerehabilitation system in the current healthcare structure is not only cost-effective but also has a positive social impact.

Research has shown that addiction patients prefer videoconferencing and smartphone apps to stay in touch with their doctors and that these technologies provide the greatest benefits and the greatest access to services for people in rural areas. Text messages are often used with substance use disorder patients to provide individual attention and more personalized help.

Even though research on the effectiveness of telemedicine in rehabilitation is limited, there is some evidence in favor of it, for example, patients tend to have fewer drinking days as well as fewer substance abuse days when they’re in telerehabilitation programs as opposed to normal care.

Telemedicine in Addiction Treatment

According to a study in 2018, despite its massive potential in addition to its effectiveness in dealing with addiction problems, telemedicine was widely underutilized in substance abuse and rehab centers.

With telemedicine, substance abuse patients feel like they have a sense of control over their lives, which is great for their recovery because most people afflicted with such disorders begin to feel like they no longer have any control. When they are interviewed and asked about what feels useful according to them, patients are more likely to open up when they’re in a familiar and comfortable environment like their home.

With telehealth services, patients can keep their doctors updated on their day-to-day progress by simply logging onto the app or platform where they usually communicate. This is easy, efficient and patients are more likely to get immediate help in cases where they need it.

In some patients, addictions are a product of certain underlying physical or mental health conditions. Telemedicine makes it extremely easy to get treatment for different types of diseases or conditions you’re suffering from. Mental health disorders can be targeted by mental health professionals and a physician can look at any physical problems that may have aggravated the addiction.

With regular use of telemedicine in recovery and addiction treatment programs, substance abuse patients can adopt healthy behavioral patterns and start their journey of becoming sober. All in all, healthier habits, constant communication with healthcare providers and consistent encouragement will help people who have addiction problems in their recovery.

 

Why We Need Telemedicine-Facilitated Recovery Programs

In certain parts of America, there’s an ongoing opioid crisis that former President Trump declared a public health emergency in 2017. This allowed doctors and health professionals to prescribe addiction medication to patients via telemedicine. This was a step in the right direction because instead of having struggling substance abuse patients gather funds and travel to visit a hospital for treatment, their treatment simply came to them.

In this way, more people were reached and therefore helped as a result of telemedicine. This was particularly true for the more rural areas where getting treatment for any disease, including addiction, is much harder because of scarce resources and remote locations.

Some question how effective telemedicine can be for addiction patients but there have been studies on the subject that imply that virtual communication and therapy for addiction sufferers have just as good an effect on patients as regular in-person interactions. If anything, most patients prefer this new form of communication and treatment because now the cure comes to them instead of them going out and looking for it.

Several doctors believe that telemedicine in addiction and recovery has been life-saving, this could be owing to the immediate and personalized attention doctors can provide to at-risk patients. Or it could be because people change their behaviors gradually and become healthier individuals over time.

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Tele-ICU (Intensive Care Unit) & Its benefits

The coronavirus pandemic has really opened up everyone’s eyes to the unique benefits of telehealth and telemedicine and the healthcare industry is slowly but surely adopting the “doing more with less” mindset. This cost-effective, remote way of delivering health services to all types of locations and patients has proven to be advantageous for all parties involved, even more so in these uncertain times. Since Covid-19 has already caused a shortage of beds in most hospitals, patients and doctors both have become more hesitant about checking ICU patients into hospitals.

What Is Tele-ICU?

Tele-ICU, also called eICU, is a diagnosis and treatment method that makes use of videoconferencing and internet technology to provide remote intensive care services to patients. It makes it possible for patients and critical care specialists in the ICU to be face-to-face within minutes and for at-risk individuals to receive medical attention easily and quickly.

An integral part of tele-ICU, as well as acute care telemedicine, are medical professionals called intensivists, who specialize in critical and unstable patients with an unforeseeable and complicated medical prognosis.

How Does Tele-ICU Work?

Most tele-ICU programs have command centers that are staffed with critical care nurses and intensivists who aid patients electronically either with the help of audio connections or videoconferencing. This allows healthcare professionals to get patient data in real-time and resolve issues as soon as they arise. This way of delivering intensive care has greatly empowered busy hospital staff and minimized their exposure to the virus, keeping them protected and healthy and therefore ready to deal with increasing numbers of patients.

In rural areas, where medical attention would otherwise be a distant possibility, tele-ICU has become a powerful way to augment limited resources and use them to save lives every day.

Tele-ICU services offer virtual consultations with intensive care health experts for the management of patients with ventilator management issues, cardiovascular instability or chronic renal failure, among other things.

It offers patients flexible, round-the-clock access to critical care specialists. Apart from consultations and management of acute patients, there are also daily rounds where intensivists help guide daily activities and plans for tele-ICU patients.

Advantages of Telemedicine in Intensive Care Units

There are significant benefits of telemedicine in general but particularly in the case of ICUs, one of the biggest benefits is that people in remote locations are more easily reached and attended to. Back when telemedicine didn’t exist, people from remote areas had to struggle to gather enough funds to first travel and then receive medical attention. For most people, this was not a possibility. Some may have even perished before reaching bigger cities to receive care.

Another advantage is that a far greater number of patients can receive medical attention from intensivists and multispecialty physicians from different locations 24/7, who can help deliver advanced critical care for quicker recoveries and generally better health outcomes. In normal circumstances, these certified intensivists would not be able to provide their patients with the kind of undivided attention and care they can provide through tele-ICU.

Intensivists are generally very experienced in diagnosing how critical a patient’s condition is, which is helped greatly by access to vital information that is provided through the current technology used in tele-ICU equipment. This helps dramatically reduce ICU complications. They are also extremely well-versed and experienced in different kinds of critical care like pediatric critical care or pulmonary critical care.

Tele-ICU solutions can also massively reduce the cost of providing healthcare to those in need. As a result, hospitals can have much better revenue streams by simply monitoring critically ill patients with a network of remote intensivists and critical care teams. So, not only does telemedicine help doctors reach more patients, but it also saves the hospital money. And the savings are considerable.

Tele-ICU Can Even Reduce Patient Complications

The longer patients are in an ICU, the greater their likelihood of developing complications. By monitoring ICU patients remotely, most of these complications can be avoided and according to a study, it was concluded that tele-ICUs can help reduce mortality rates by an average of 29%. The research in this study also showed that patients’ length of stay was reduced by a third when tele-ICU was used, which means that there are more beds for the critically or terminally ill.

Cutting-Edge Tele-ICU Technology

With the right visual tools, it becomes very easy for doctors to monitor patients no matter the distance between them. This can be done round the clock and from any location. Audio and video conferencing in addition to streams of real-time patient data from multiple interfaces make the doctor’s job much easier. Even though the intensivist is already engaged with the patient, this constant connectivity allows him or her to quickly intervene and provide care consistently if a problem ever arises.

The entire concept of tele-ICU services began from trying to maximize medical resources because the demand for medical services and care is often higher than the supply. This can be seen with the current pandemic. Hospital beds were completely filled during the peak times when the cases numbered the highest. Since there has been such an increase in ICU usage and several clinical studies have supported tele-ICU, citing its financial and medical benefits, more hospitals are starting to invest in tele-ICU technology.

The streams of patient data that are captured by tele-ICU programs can also be used to optimize health systems by taking more evidence-based approaches in the future.

How Does Tele-ICU Improve Quality of Care Provided?

When it comes to managing diseases, tele-ICU can help intensivists perform acute interventions and keep an eye on all patients using surveillance for a more proactive form of care. It also caters to different patients’ individual needs. Since healthcare professionals can be located anywhere to provide care to patients, most patients end up receiving the best of the best treatment, which then greatly helps them with their recovery.

To learn more about tele-ICU, visit our page and find out how it can benefit you.

Telemedicine Solutions, Software and Devices

Telemedicine involves using telecommunication technology to deliver healthcare services to people remotely. While it’s not an entirely new concept, its use has picked up increasingly with the development of better technology and telemedicine software, in addition to better internet connectivity. The fact that an increasingly large number of people now have access to such technology has also helped increase the use of telemedicine in modern society.

During the coronavirus pandemic, telemedicine has proved to be more useful than ever because it’s a great way to provide care to those who need it while also adhering to social distancing measures.

Telemedicine Technology

Telemedicine and telehealth use most of the same technology and software, however, the focus of telemedicine is a little narrower. Telehealth may use it for general health purposes like alerting the public about a new virus outbreak. Telemedicine on the other hand serves the specific purpose of providing clinical care to patients.

Telemedicine software usually aims to connect patients with their doctors or healthcare providers with each other. The main purpose of telemedicine software solutions is to provide healthcare from a distance conveniently. This saves patients the time and money they would otherwise spend to travel to a doctor to get treatment.

With appropriate telemedicine software, healthcare providers can prescribe medicines, do consultations about injuries, and diagnose illnesses without having to meet the patient in-person. Even consultations through phone calls count as telemedicine. This type of telemedicine has been in existence for ages.

However, telemedicine can be most effective if the physician can actually see the patient, and visually diagnose a condition. This is why the best telemedicine software and devices aim to connect the patient and physician visually, ideally via 2-way video, but prerecorded videos and photographs also work.

What Equipment Do You Need for Telemedicine?

Most people have access to basic telecommunication technology like phones, computers and the internet, but telemedicine requires equipment apart from just those things. A healthcare provider may need to get the following to get started with telemedicine.

1. Telemedicine Carts

Telemedicine carts provide physicians with some much-needed mobility as well as storage space to carry equipment such as computer screens, cameras, keyboards, and other medical devices. More complex telemedicine solutions and part of larger systems almost see telemedicine carts as a necessity. This piece of equipment can often look like a standing work desk with attached computer monitors and wheels at the bottom for ease in maneuvering.

These carts can be wheeled from room to room whenever the need arises. While these carts are usually present in hospitals and large healthcare systems, physicians may prefer to have one at home for greater convenience and efficiency.

2. Digital Camera

To be visually connected, it’s imperative to have a digital camera or a webcam so you can easily partake in video conferencing with patients or with other physicians. If you get a high-end camera that guarantees a high-resolution display, it will allow for clearer video capture.

Some medical tools may also have small integrated cameras in them that take highly detailed photos of body parts, both internal and external. However, this kind of telemedicine equipment tends to be very expensive and is therefore often shared between telemedicine healthcare providers.

3. Telemedicine Kiosks

More and more clinics and companies are beginning to add telemedicine kiosks on-site that are stocked with telemedicine equipment and are mobile in case they are needed for a telemedicine visit. But since these kiosks are quite expensive, only large companies and clinics purchase them to extend healthcare services to employees and customers.

4. Telemedicine Kits

A telemedicine kit looks essentially like a briefcase, but it has all the necessary equipment fitted inside it for medical emergencies. They often contain a computer screen, camera and other simple mobile medical devices.

5. Telemedicine Software

Telemedicine solutions are slowly but surely moving to the cloud; however, some providers still purchase a software system that needs to be installed on the medical practice’s computers. The software is checked for compatibility with the systems first and then appropriately installed. Some software solutions may require additional components like a hard drive for storage or even servers.

Some healthcare providers may purchase different telemedicine solutions software for different objectives. For example, one software may be for live video conferencing, another may be for collecting, storing and saving patient data. However, the best telemedicine solution would be an integrated one so that only one software is required for all of the healthcare provider’s professional needs.

Mobile Medical Equipment

Mobile medical devices or equipment can be used by either patients or medical healthcare providers for capturing and sending data to professionals at different locations. An example could be a heart patient who has been discharged post-surgery or even post-heart attack and needs monitoring. A portable ECG machine may be needed to track the patient’s heart activity.

Some telemedicine solutions require patients to also purchase some mobile medical equipment that they are going to need for their home, so they can be remotely monitored. Some providers may even offer packages to the patients to help them get the required equipment.

It proves very beneficial as it can take the patient’s data day in and day out and send it straight to the doctor, provided there is an internet connection. This is highly efficient as the device would be doing most of the work and the provider would be able to keep a watchful eye over the patient by receiving their data every day.

Telemedicine solutions have become even more advanced in the case of store-and-forward solutions where a provider in one location gathers patient data and has to send it to a physician in a different location. These solutions tend to have integrated audio and visual recording devices that can be shared with other devices.

To learn more about telemedicine software and devices, visit our page and see what devices suit your needs.