Telemedicine is the use of electronic information and telecommunications to support long-distance health care. It uses internet calling and video chat technology to enable health services for individuals to connect with their health care providers in lieu of an office visit. It’s an industry-changing innovation that provides patients with new opportunities to receive health care at lower costs and lesser personal inconvenience.
Empowering health care providers to deliver telemedicine would significantly increase health care access. At least 38 percent of in-person visits, including 27 percent of emergency department visits, could be remotely delivered by qualified professionals through telemedicine. These remote services would have enormous health benefits for patients in underserved areas without reliable access to physicians.
Expanding access to telemedicine would also help patients reduce health care expenses. Telemedicine-based home health programs in the Veterans Health Administration have reduced the rate of hospitalizations by 35 percent by remotely monitoring chronically ill patients and providing timely interventions. These innovations saved nearly $2,000 for every individual within the program.