Telemedicine is used in many different medical fields, throughout ambulatory and hospital settings. Almost every medical field has some use for consulting a patient or another provider (usually a specialist) remotely. Because of shortages of care, limited access to specialists in some areas, and remote locations of patients (especially in rural or sparsely populated areas), telemedicine is incredibly useful to any healthcare provider trying to expand access to quality patient care.
Some medical specialties were early adopters of telemedicine and have pushed development of solutions specifically for their specialty. As a result, there are several key niche telemedicine specialties. Here are some of the most popular telemedicine solutions specialties:
- Teleradiology: Teleradiology is actually one of the earliest fields of telemedicine, beginning in the 1960s. Teleradiology solutions were developed to expand access to diagnosticians of x-rays. Smaller hospitals around the U.S. may not always have a radiologist on staff, or may not have access to one around the clock. That means patients coming into the ER, especially during off-hours, will have to wait for diagnosis. Teleradiology solutions now offer providers at one location to send a patient’s x-rays and records securely to a qualified radiologist at another location, and get a quick consult on the patient’s condition.
- Telepsychiatry: Telepsychiatry allows qualified psychiatrists to provide treatment to patients remotely, expanding access to behavioral health services. Telepsychiatry is incredibly popular, in part because of the nation-wide shortage of available psychiatrists, and because psychiatry often does not require the same physical exams of the medical field.
- Teledermatology: Teledermatology solutions are usually store-and-forward technologies that allow a general healthcare provider to send a patient photo of a rash, a mole, or another skin anomaly, for remote diagnosis. As frontline providers of care, primary care practitioners are often the first medical professionals to spot a potential problem. Teledermatology solutions lets PCPs continue to coordinate a patient’s care, and offer a quick answer on whether further examination is needed from a dermatologist.
- Teleopthamology: Teleopthamology solutions allow opthamologists to examine patients’ eyes, or check-in about treatments from a distance. A common example is an opthamologist diagnosing and treating an eye infection. These solutions are usually either live or store-and-forward telemedicine.
- Telenephrology: Telenephrology is nephrology practiced at a distance. Telenephrology solutions are most commonly used interprofessionally, when a family physician needs to consult a nephrologist about a patient with kidney disease.
- Teleobstetrics: Teleobstetrics allow obstetricians to provide prenatal care from afar. This could mean, for example, recording a baby’s heart at one location and forwarding it to an obstetrician for diagnosis at another facility.
- Teleoncology: The teleoncology field has quickly expanded in the last few years, to provide more accessible and convenient care to patients with cancer. While some teleoncology solutions offer store-and-forward tools to forward images for diagnosis, others are live video platforms to allow patient consults with the oncologist.
- Telepathology: Telepathology solutions let pathologists share pathology at a distance for diagnosis, research, and education. Most telepathology tools are store-and-forward solutions, allowing pathologists to share and forward high-resolution images and videos.
- Telerehabilitation: Telerehabilitation allow medical professionals to deliver rehab services (such as physical therapy) remotely.