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Telemedicine: Reforming Health Care in Rural Areas

written by: Lashan Clarke • edited by: Anurag Ghosh • updated: 12/16/2010

The use of remote health monitoring through telemedicine has changed the way in which health care professionals are able to provide care to people living in rural locations. The professional will use a variety of telemedicine remote monitoring tools to monitor the person's health.

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    Remote Health Monitoring

    There are so many people living in areas where there is no quick access to health care. They can be living in a rural setting. This may mean that when they are sick, they might have to drive an hour or more to the nearest health facility. The situation is even worse if the person is elderly or disabled. Complications can arise in people who have long-term health problems and need to see a physician on a regular basis.

    It is because of situations such as these that remote health monitoring arose. This is the use of technology to monitor the health of a person at a site remote to where the main health facility might be. This type of health monitoring is ideal in parts of Asia and Africa where the use of remote health has helped numerous clinicians working in very rural settings.

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    Telemedicine

    The key way that remote health monitoring can be covered is through telemedicine. Telemedicine remote health monitoring is a procedure in which someone can be monitored at home or at a distant medical clinic. It is an idea that was first started within the countries of Europe. Many of the elderly people living in remote villages were unable to visit the main hospital or clinic for a checkup. Instead, telemedicine is an affordable alternative.

    There are tools used in remote health monitoring that can scan images of the person and have the images sent to the hospital. A temperature can be taken just using a simple electronic device or a blood sugar level of a person in another village can be transmitted to a public health nurse. This is how the situation can be improved with telemedicine remote monitoring for people who are unable to visit a health-care facility because they cannot move or live to far away.

    Therefore, someone who is located at a considerable distance away can be placed within the telemedicine program and have a nurse or physician monitor him/her in areas reminding them to take medication, managing their medical condition or being alerted for any emergency situations. There are numerous conditions such as asthma, diabetes and hypertension that need to be actively monitored and can be done through telemedicine remote monitoring.

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    The Tools Of Telemedicine

    There are numerous tools and equipment that can be used in telemedicine. These can include anything from cellular phones to medical bracelets, motion detectors, GPS systems, handheld scanners and wireless devices. There are also recent advancements within this area. The telemedicine tools and equipment have now been designed to allow the person to speak with health personnel using two-way communication. Therefore, the person living remotely can discuss his symptoms with a nurse or physician to receive the proper treatment.

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