Texting your symptoms to a GP, sending them a picture of that abnormality, and talking to them on the phone directly, all from the comfort of your own home? Having a video call with a doctor is no longer the stuff of sci-fi movies, and the potential of telemedicine is huge – helping users get the advice they need, whilst also easing the pressure on the NHS, which has seen year-on-year increases of GP consultations – with an estimated 1 million every day. But what is telemedicine, and how will it have an impact on you?

What is telemedicine?

Through the use of technology, telemedicine enables patients to contact a doctor either a phone call or a video call. Using your smartphone or tablet, a doctor can be a click of a button away, providing instant contact on the day that you need one – think of it a bit like Skype, but instead of talking to a friend or relative in a far flung country, you’re having a chat with a trained doctor just like you would at your local surgery. The GP is able to analyse any health issues that you have, offering advice, providing prescriptions or referring you for on going tests or treatment if required. Also, with it being a computerised system, the GP at the other end has instant access to your health records and would be able to see if there is an ongoing issue. And if that wasn’t enough, you’re also able to specify the doctor you’d like to speak to.

How does it benefit you?

With there an estimated 370 million GP consultations annually in the UK, it’s not surprising that it’s quite hard to see your doctor. There is such a high demand that some patients may have to wait up to 10 days to see a GP. Telemedicine comes in handy by providing you with timely access to a doctor so you can get help when you need it. It also means there won’t be any struggle to get an appointment – be they waiting on hold on the phone as soon as your surgery opens in the morning to try and get an appointment for that day, taking time off work to see a doctor.

How could it impact the health service?

Health services are stretched and under constant, increasing pressure. With an ageing population, the NHS will continue to experience more strain, and this is where telemedicine could really make an impact – by freeing up the NHS for those who need it most. In an age of constant technological advances, it’s time our health service was brought into the 21st century – taking advantage of the technology at our disposal and creating a fast, efficient way to get treatment and advice.

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