Believe it or not, remote access to medical care has been around for centuries. As early as the age of the Roman Empire, people who were too ill to visit a doctor sent representatives to describe symptoms and return with diagnoses and treatment instructions. As communications technology developed in the 1800s and early 1900s in the United States, patients began using telephones and telegraphs to seek care from their doctors.
Did you know that beginning in the 1950s, the American space flight program spawned the invention of everyday technical innovations such as the communications system used in cardiac pacemakers? The telehealth field benefits to this day as NASA continually develops ways to monitor astronauts’ physical condition and ability to endure long missions.
Telehealth may seem like a relatively new mode of patient care, but it’s been in use for decades in familiar ways that may surprise you! Here’s a pop culture reference from the 1970s: If you remember the TV show Emergency!, you probably saw Paramedics DeSoto and Gage conduct EKGs on the scene, with Dr. Brackett and Nurse McCall reviewing the results via printout in the ER. This fictional scene is a perfect example of real telehealth in action.
And who can forget Dr. Jerri Nielsen, the courageous physician who treated her breast cancer in Antarctica? Until she could be air-lifted from a South Pole research station in the winter of 1999, Dr. Nielsen consulted remotely with specialists in the U.S. via teleconference and email, and administered chemotherapy to herself.
The successful use of telemedicine in space exploration helped trigger the idea of more widespread use on land, particularly in remote communities. Last year the Health Resources and Services Administration awarded more than $16 million to address quality healthcare access in rural areas. The initiative includes expanded use of telehealth technology!
Thanks in large part to the almost total incorporation of the Internet into people’s daily lives since the turn of this century, telehealth has become the modern, high-tech equivalent of the house call, with added benefits: Providers such as Teladoc not only offer medical diagnoses and treatments but also focus on awareness and prevention. Teladoc also works to promote overall physical and emotional wellness for its members and their families.
The use of telehealth to treat non-emergency conditions is becoming widely accepted and is anticipated to continue growing. Since coming online in 2002, Teladoc has made convenience and high-quality care its hallmark. Members connect by mobile app, web, or phone; with the app, they can schedule appointments, visit with doctors, search for nearby pharmacies, upload photos, and sync temperature readings from their Kinsa™ smart thermometer. After a visit, treatment summaries can be sent to members’ primary care physicians.
Teladoc’s board-certified doctors average more than 15 years of experience. This extensive network of 3,100 physicians, therapists, and counselors is able to provide expert care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in all 50 states. Teladoc reports that 92% of member’s issues are resolved without the need for a follow-up visit.
When it comes to convenient, on-demand care for conditions such as colds, flu, rashes, seasonal allergies, and respiratory infections — and dermatology and behavioral health needs depending on coverage — members have come to rely on the knowledge that they’re #coveredwithteladoc.
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