Telemedicine remains one of the most important recent technological innovations in the health care market, and its use is especially beneficial among patients who are at risk.
A team from the University of Virginia's Health System, for instance, is working with local rescue squads to better diagnose stroke patients before they even reach a hospital, which has been seen to give patients better opportunities for treatment that can save their lives, with full recovery possible.
"The longest delay in treating folks is not once they get to the hospital but before they get to the hospital," said stroke neurologist Andrew Southerland.
Fast diagnosis and treatment for many stroke patients is vital because some of the most effective treatments are only effective and safe if delivered within the first three hours of detectable symptoms. Due to regional delays and diagnosis time frames, less than 5 percent of stroke victims receive this treatment, and those figures drop even more in areas of Virginia where ambulances sometimes travel more than 30 minutes to treat a patient.
With a recent emphasis on treating stroke patients on the road with mobile devices such as tablets and videoconferencing equipment, these changes are likely to strongly boost the percentage of stroke victims who get their treatment in time.
Keep elderly out of nursing homes
In addition, telemedicine has been found to help keep elderly patients active and safe, increasingly keeping many older patients out of nursing homes, according to CNBC. A nonprofit in Pennsylvania has recently adopted MobileCare Monitors, which are wristwatch-like devices that can send nurses' aides information immediately after a fall has been tracked, in many senior living facilities where patients are self-sustaining.
Since adopting such technology, the percentage of patients moved into nursing homes has fallen from 20 percent to 12 percent, with more than 40 people now using the technology. That's not the only benefit – it's been noted that the $400 per monitor and few thousand dollars necessary to install the program in a complex is a minor expense compared to the long-term costs that nursing care can cause. These benefits can go a long way in many communities, helping seniors stay independent.
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