Telemedicine Tips: Informed Consent

Posted By American Med Spa Association, Thursday, January 21, 2016

Before you stop reading, this is not an article about physicians in the media or TV medical dramatizations. One of the fastest growing segments in the so-called “digital health” space (#digitalhealth for the Tweeters out there) is the proliferation of telemedicine and tele-consultation tools, which leverage cloud computing and ubiquitous mobile technology for delivery of health care. This article will not focus on any one product (the author has invested in companies that provide telemedicine services) but rather on the promises and pitfalls of remote medical consultation and care delivery. First, a definition, from everybody’s favorite reference, Wikipedia: Telemedicine is the use of telecommunication and information technologies in order to provide clinical health care at a distance. Common uses of telemedicine include emergency triage, dermatologic screening for rashes and skin lesions, radiologic study review, remote vital sign monitoring, or even telesurgery using robotic systems. In the aesthetic space, common uses of telemedicine involve initial cosmetic consultations, follow-up sessions for out-of-town patients, and a variety of implementations in early postoperative tracking, wound triage, and recovery coaching. Advantages of telemedicine include the capacity to store-and-forward information, perform remote data gathering using mobile technologies, and having simultaneous interactions despite physical separation. The ability to store information at the patient’s location (ie, a picture of a healing incision, a laceration that may or may not require surgical closure, bruising after a facelift, etc.), and forward it to the physician for evaluation when the patient and physician need not be present or online simultaneously, may confer time-saving advantages to the provider’s practice, in that after-hours care may be appropriate for certain issues. Remote monitoring can facilitate wellness assessments with the tracking of nutritional intake, physical activity, laboratory testing, sleep patterns, and even reproductive health. Full interactive software suites offer real-time video and audio tools, text chatting capabilities, and potentially supplemental media sharing opportunities (like photo or pre-recorded video clip transmission). Newer telemedicine systems feature direct integration into the electronic health record, allowing capture of the remote encounters into the patient’s virtual chart without requiring extra steps. Read more at Modern Aesthetics.