One of the greatest challenges in rural health is assuring that medical expertise is available where it is needed, when it is needed. This is difficult for remote rural healthcare facilities because they are often unable to attract, afford or retain specialty providers. Telemedicine helps solve these issues by allowing access to specialists regardless of location. This is done with live video or store and forward solutions or combinations of both. With telemedicine, a remote physician sees the patient remotely using communications technology and special medical devices. The specialist can examine the patient, review vital signs, patient history and provide assessment, diagnosis and treatment. Usually treatment can be delivered locally. This minimizes or eliminates the need for travel for either the patient or the specialist. Telemedicine also helps rural facilities to train and retain clinicians because telemedicine allows on-the-job experience and remote participation in grand rounds.
Telemedicine allows mobile health units access to specialist expertise regardless of where either the mobile health unit or the specialist is located. Mobile health units can serve the community patients; send challenging cases or second opinion requests to a remote practitioners for diagnosis support, treatment advice, etc. to in order to make sure the local patients receive appropriate care.
The benefits for Disaster Relief are similar to rural health and mobile health. Telemedicine allows healthcare delivery capability to move in quickly after a disaster. This allows the on-sight providers rapid access to advanced expertise and capabilities for triage and care electronically when and where it is most needed.
Industrial sites such as mines, drilling platforms or industrial campuses depend on the health of their employees to operate. They must respond to an unpredictable set of health needs to support sometimes hundreds of employees. Telemedicine avoids the high cost evacuations and assures that the workers receive appropriate treatment and is also available to support operations as soon as possible.
Telemedicine allow prison facilities to deliver high quality care without the cost and dangers of inmate transportation or the need for clinical specialist to enter the facility. Telemedicine substantially improves access to care while substantially reducing costs.