In 1967 one of the first telemedicine clinics was founded by Kenneth Bird at Massachusetts General Hospital. The clinic addressed the fundamental problem of delivering occupational and emergency health services to employees and travellers at Boston's Logan International Airport, located three congested miles from the hospital. Over 1,000 patients are documented as having received remote treatment from doctors at MGH using the clinic's two-way audiovisual microwave circuit. The timing of Bird's clinic more or less coincided with NASA's foray into telemedicine through the use of physiologic monitors for astronauts. Other pioneering programs in telemedicine were designed to deliver healthcare services to people in rural settings. The first interactive telemedicine system, operating over standard telephone lines, designed to remotely diagnose and treat patients requiring cardiac resuscitation (defibrillation) was developed and launched by an American company, MedPhone Corporation, in 1989. A year later under the leadership of its President/CEO S Eric Wachtel, MedPhone introduced a mobile cellular version, the MDPhone. Twelve hospitals in the U.S. served as receiving and treatment centers.
Roy Schoenberg, the CEO of American Well, believes that doctors, insurers and employers will increasingly inform their patients about the option to use telemedicine, which will help consumers get over many of their fears. If they've already got a relationship with that doctor, a virtual consult might seem like an easier alternative to getting across town to a doctor's office and sitting in a waiting room.
Patients often look for a quick and inexpensive second opinion from a specialist, after diagnosis of a medical condition. Telemedicine has stepped up, by providing solutions in this aspect as well. Companies and traditional healthcare services such as Partners Healthcare, 2nd.MD, DoctorSpring, and Cleaveland Clinic are providing quick and efficient second opinions using telehealth.
“Although many definitions are similar, there are nuanced differences that reflect each organization's legislative intent and the population they serve,” the study concluded. “These definitions affect how telemedicine has been or is being applied across the healthcare landscape, reflecting the U.S. government's widespread and influential role in healthcare access and service delivery. The evidence base suggests that a common nomenclature for defining telemedicine may benefit efforts to advance the use of this technology to address the changing nature of healthcare and new demands for services expected as a result of health reform.”
These devices can be packed into a kit and sent out into the field. In this way, telemedicine has proved extremely useful in rural and developing countries like Gabon, Iraqi Kurdistan, and Nigeria, where there is very little access to high-quality medical care. Telemedicine eliminates the barrier of distance and improves access to medical services that would otherwise not be available in distant rural communities.
Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN): A common dial-up transmission path used for videoconferencing. ISDN services are on demand services where another IDSN based device is dialed, and per minuted charges are accumulated at a certain contracted rate. The site that places the call is then billed. The service is similar to the dialing features that come with making long distance phone calls. The person how initiates the call pays the bill. Connections of up to 128Kbps are permitted by ISDN.
Equipping nursing homes and hospital rooms this way would enable a variety of practitioners to provide bedside care more conveniently—for the patient and the provider. Patients wouldn't have to be transported, and practitioners could see more patients without disruption. In addition, the primary care provider, family, and friends located elsewhere could link into the video consultations, enhancing communication between all parties involved in the patient's care.
Healthcare systems, policymakers, vendors, and providers alike can attest to the many gray areas within telemedicine. One particular area that requires more clarity is the legalities surrounding telemedicine. With it being an industry that is constantly growing, it has become difficult to create a concrete solution. In addition, each state follows different laws for telemedicine, which makes it increasingly difficult to keep up with it.
On the eve of its July 1 IPO, the company was billed as the first and largest telehealth platform in the United States. The number of visits facilitated in 2014 was 299,000. By 2016, its visit count had grown to 952,000. The company had 8.1 million members in 2014 and 10.6 by the end of the first quarter of 2015. By the end of the first quarter of 2015, the company has 4000 clients including 160 of the Fortune 1000 companies. Two years later, the company had 7500 clients and 220 Fortune 1000 companies.