Telemedicine is defined in general terms as the delivery of health care services at a distance using electronic means for “the diagnosis of treatment, and prevention of disease and injuries, research and evaluation, education of health care providers” to improve health. There are many descriptions for this, but telehealth often is used as the umbrella term to encompass telemedicine for direct delivery of care, but could also be used for education, research, and public health initiatives, and prevention. The available technology allows us such to us multiple devices such as cellphones, computers, and others in order to deliver care.
Telemedicine through telephone and video technology has been used since the 1960s in the sectors of the military and space. Over the past several decades, as the use of wireless broadband technology has become more advanced and cell phone and internet use has become almost mainstay the availability of this modality makes it attractive for use.
In the United States, the use of telemedicine is increasing. There have been multiple studies and surveys that looked at the introduction of this modality into medical practices, and many different models exists in our country for its use. As it pertains to medical care some of the hurdles include the ability to maintain patient privacy and compliance with the existing regulations and legal barriers.
The COVID 19 pandemic has thrust us hard and fast into adopting this modality to take care of our patients during this crisis. It has allowed us to reach and treat most of the patients in our Urology practice from the comfort and safety of their and our homes. We have been able to transition efficiently and quite effectively. I personally believe telemedicine is here to stay and will continue to evolve. Further platforms will continue to evolve, as they already exist, that will provide more interactive features that will allow us to provide even more complete health care delivery.