Infant Suffering Life-Threatening Disease Survives, Thanks To Telemedicine

The benefits of telemedicine are plentiful. In the case of then seven-month-old MaLea Fox, the relatively new practice saved her life. The infant suffered from a 102.4 degree fever, among other troubling symptoms. Perplexed by the exact cause of the baby’s ailment, the doctor at Columbia Memorial Hospital teleconferenced with Pediatric Intensivist Dr. Jennifer Needle at the Oregon Health and Science University. In addition to conferencing, telemedicine software and telemedicine video enabled Dr. Needle to physically examine MaLea, pull up vital information, and ultimately diagnose her with a potentially fatal condition, memingococcemia. The early diagnosis and the immediate intubation (also ordered remotely by Dr. Needle) saved her life.

Telehealth Technologies Can Save Resources And Money
In 2013, the U.S. telemedicine industry brought in $240 million; in 2018, experts project that that number will be closer to $1.9 billion. What explains this sharp increase? There are two main benefits of telemedicine. First, telehealth solutions and telemedicine doctors help address the crippling shortage of primary care physicians (15,000 and 20,000 right now, according to the Huffington Post). Second, healthcare costs remain a big problem for Americans. Many struggle to afford medical bills, even with health insurance. Telehealth services are often comparably cheaper and, in many states (22 to be exact), these services are still covered under insurance policies.

Telemedicine Isn’t Just For Physical Conditions
Most notably, telemedicine doesn’t discriminate: there are also qualified telepsychiatrists, waiting to help patients at their convenience. And telepsychiatry boasts an impressive level of success. In fact, fewer patients cancel appointments with telepsychiatrists (3.5% vs. 4.8%). Telehealth patients are also significantly less likely to neglect attending mental health appointments (4.2% compared to 7.8%). Telepsychiatry patients are also more likely to follow-up and book future appointments than their peers meeting with mental health professionals in person.

Telemedicine is changing lives — and saving them, too. Telemedicine helps address a critical shortage of doctors. It lowers costs, and it is showing an unprecedented amount of success among mental health patients in particular.