Moms with sick infants or small children left work to visit the pediatrician’s office or they drove to the urgent care office after hours. In the middle of the night, the emergency room was there when the children were sick. Moms traditionally picked up the children from nursery school or preschool, which incurred lost days from work and school. The cost of these instances was not slight, especially if the mother’s sick days were maxed out. Now, however, moms have another option. This option will save them lost time from work, lost time from school and oh, yes, money. It’s called telemedicine and it’s taking the country by storm.What Is Telemedicine?The World Health Organization, or WHO, defines telemedicine as “the delivery of online healthcare services at a distance by health care providers using information and communications technology for the exchange of information for the purposes of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease, injuries, research and evaluation and for continuing education of health care professionals, dedicated to the interest in advancing individuals’ and communities’ health.” In layman’s terms, that means seeking the assistance of a virtual doctor for online medical care via webcam or Skype.History of TelemedicineAncient peoples used methods such as smoke signals to signify that villages or other communities suffered mass illness and for visitors to remain at a safe distance. Modern telemedicine, according to the WHO, had its beginnings in the 1800s, but the first recorded instance of its use was in the early 1900s. It involved electrocardiograph information being transferred by telephone. In the 1960s, the military in addition to the space program refined telemedicine practices, while other doctors were using television to consult with each other. Today, IT and communications have combined to give web doctors and patients virtual medicine conveniently and without the wait.Benefits of TelemedicineMoms with sick infants or preschoolers no longer have to wait until the primary care doctor or pediatrician has an opening. Nor is an urgent care waiting room filled with ill persons an option. Emergency rooms, begone! All mom has to do is go to an online doctor, sign up, tell him/her the problem and submit to an online exam. Waiting time for a health care professional is between 10 minutes and one half hour. Online doctors will send prescriptions to treat upper respiratory problems, rashes, sinus upsets, stomach disorders or the common cold to the nearest pharmacy.
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