Thanks to telehealth, patients may not have to travel to doctors' offices for routine visits. So long as it is reasonable and effective, Medicare and Medicaid are starting to accept physician services and testing provided from a distance. These new medical services use automated gathering of vital signs, telephone conversations with the patient, and even EKGs and imaging.
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The information can be sent for review, and results can be delivered at a later time. This is telehealth, a general term for medical monitoring and patient instruction over a distance using telecommunication. It can help you consider places to retire knowing that you'll have access to doctors and medical monitoring no matter where you are.
The availability of telehealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM) helps patients choose their retirement communities for the luxuries they want, and still receive medical attention on a regular basis. It is useful for providing more frequent checks on patient status, especially when it is difficult for you to travel.
Telemedicine is another option. Medicare's explanation of telehealth notes that it is a combination of a variety of health services provided at a distance, but not necessarily as part of a direct consultation. Medicaid more narrowly defines telemedicine as a "live" interaction between doctor and patient, possibly with a facilitator.
The key component of telemedicine is an audiovisual connection which allows the doctor and patient to meet in real time, much like teleconferencing or applications such as Skype. It may include other data provided to the physician, but it is conducted in real-time, and can be used to address urgent concerns. The patient may travel to a "satellite" location in the community, or there may be one located at the patient's assisted living home, while the doctor remains at a "hub," usually providing services to multiple locations.
Currently, providing telemedicine services is limited by state licensing rules. The requirements of the state where the patient is located govern whether a telemedicine provider must hold a license in that state. Regional providers might have to be licensed in several states to provide services throughout the area.
Telehealth and telemedicine help make independent living or living in a luxury retirement community an easier option even when you have a condition which requires frequent monitoring or doctor visits. Not only does it provide convenient access to care, it also lets you and your loved ones relax knowing that you're looked after, even from a distance.