Telemedicine has drastically improved the standard of healthcare globally. Previously underserved regions of the world can now have access to the best health professionals at the push of a button. The application of telemedicine cuts across various systems linking health professionals and patients. Telemedicine has ensured prompt access to health services, saved cost and stress that comes with transporting patients and health personnel to the hospital, made communication easier between patients and their healthcare providers, and improved inter-specialty conversations among health professionals.
In addition, telemedicine has proven to be effective for telemental health in correctional facilities. It reduces the incidence of inmate violence and behavioral problems in correctional facilities.
There are four methods of telemedicine which, when introduced into correctional facilities, promise to improve the quality of health delivery in these facilities.
Synchronous Video Conferencing
This is also called Live Video Conferencing. Patients and healthcare providers are able to interact in real time with synchronous video conferencing using one audiovisual telecommunication platform or the other. This can be used to diagnose common illnesses, determine the severity of the patient’s condition, and make informed decisions on the next line of action. It can also be used for inmates who need counseling sessions without having to bring the therapist down to the correctional facility. In fact, patients might feel more comfortable when they are not in the same room with their therapist. They seem to open up better. Also, where there is a need to have other persons added to the video conference, more than two people can meet at the same time. The technology provides the tools needed to share medical records, images and test results.
This is also called Store-and-Forward Video. Unlike Live Video Conferencing, in Asynchronous Video, the video is pre-recorded and sent to the healthcare provider who can then assess the video and provide the next line of action. This is often used when the correctional facility is not close to the healthcare facility. Sometimes, the inmate might still be transported to see the healthcare provider or the health care provider would have to be brought to the facility. Either ways, this method ensures that transportation only happens when it is absolutely necessary. It also helps the healthcare provider or the healthcare facility to know what to expect and be prepared in advance. It can also be used to get the opinion of a specialist who might not be available in that vicinity.
Remote Patient Monitoring
Sometimes, inmates might develop conditions that need close monitoring, which might not be carried out easily when they are in such confinements. Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) allows healthcare providers to monitor such inmates even though they are miles apart. The correctional facility can forward test results, records and medical data to the caregiver. This can be used for inmates with diabetes, kidney conditions, high blood pressure, other heart conditions, and more.
This involves the use of mobile devices like smart watches, cell phones and tablets for healthcare support. Pictures, mails, and internet chats can be used to communicate with health personnel, especially for complaints and feedback. There are also thousands of apps for mobile devices that can perform various health-related operations. Some provide a room to consult with health professionals, order for medications, first aid tips and a lot more.
In conclusion, telemedicine is expanding rapidly and it raises the question of whether there is a limit to how much we can achieve with technology. Various methods of Telehealth can be used in correctional facilities and they are all very promising.
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