With the increased use of video conferencing and the need for remote patient care, there has been a telemedicine boom over the past year. With the pandemic having fueled the use of this technology, and the fact that it is more cost effective, telemedicine may be here to stay.
Whether it is for patients in rural areas, the ability for anyone to see a doctor who is halfway across the globe, or to save the physician’s practice the cost of overhead, telemedicine is a tool that the medical industry will continue to use for the long term.
What Is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine is the practice of caring for patients remotely. It is a real-time, one-on-one consultation allowing medical professionals to diagnose patients and advise on treatment plans. Telemedicine doesn’t replace a face-to-face consultation, but it is a supplement to in-person appointments.
What Is the Difference Between Telehealth and Telemedicine?
The World Health Organization differentiates between the two terms. It defines telemedicine as healing from a distance, whereas telehealth is the use of technology to promote long-distance health care and patient education.
Both utilize video conferencing, but telehealth also includes administrative meetings and staff training. Telemedicine focuses only on patients and their level of care.
What Part Do Medical Assistants Play in Telemedicine?
Medical assistants support physicians and nurses just like in a brick-and-mortar medical facility. They interact with the patient, schedule appointments, and perform other administrative duties. The medical assistant is the liaison between the patient and the medical staff.
Conducting a Health History
Before any appointment, as a medical assistant, you will complete a health history questionnaire with patients, just like you would in a doctor’s office. You inquire about the chief reason for the appointment, confirm any medications and allergies, and answer any preliminary questions the patient may have before seeing the doctor.
As a medical assistant, you will continue to educate patients before and after patient appointments. You may need to prepare a patient for the doctor, making sure that the patient is ready to talk with the doctor and the patient’s technology is set up correctly.
After the appointment, as the medical assistant, you will follow up with post appointment instructions for home care. This is a great time for you to schedule any follow-up appointments or an annual exam that needs to be scheduled.
Coordinating Between Providers
The medical assistant acts as the liaison between the patient and other medical professionals. If, for example, a patient needs to see a specialist or pick up a prescription at the pharmacy, as the medical assistant, you can help facilitate this for the patient. You can also make sure that specialists have all the information they need to schedule an appointment with your patient.
Scheduling Telemedicine Appointments
As the medical assistant, you will be responsible for the administrative duties in the physician’s practice, just like you would if the doctor were seeing patients in person. You will help the practice schedule telemedicine appointments, make sure patients are ready for their appointments, and schedule follow-up appointments when necessary. You will be responsible for keeping track of everyone’s calendars and making sure the doctor and nurse maximize their time to help the greatest number of patients.
Performing Administrative Duties
In addition to shadowing the physician, there are many other administrative duties that you will be tasked with. Some of the administrative duties include input of records in medical software, supporting staff by answering phones, ordering any supplies the telemedicine office needs, and managing the calendars of the medical staff.
Adhering to HIPAA Guidelines
Important guidelines that all medical assistants need to adhere to are HIPAA guidelines. It is even more important than usual to adhere to patient confidentiality rules with telemedicine. You will continue to safeguard patient medical information while still helping patients remotely.
What Are the Benefits of Telemedicine?
There are many benefits to telemedicine. Telemedicine allows patients to talk with doctors who are not geographically available, patients can send messages back and forth with medical practitioners by chat or email, and it helps doctors and medical assistants remotely monitor patients without their having to come into the office.
Telemedicine saves both the patient and medical staff travel time and transportation costs, it reduces wait times in a doctor’s office, and it can reduce the number of times a patient needs to be seen in person. A medical practitioner can also be available 24/7 when a patient needs to ask a question or voice a concern about a specific health condition.
During the pandemic, telemedicine had even more benefits. Patients were able to get health care remotely and not risk getting exposed to COVID-19. Patients were able to contact their health care practitioner with any questions they may have had, and it gave patients access to appointment scheduling to get tested.
With the opportunities in telemedicine, you can be part of the front line of medical workers and work with patients remotely. Start your training in a medical assistant hybrid program and get a feel for working online while receiving your education at the same time.
Did learning about telemedicine interest you? Ready for an exciting new career in the medical assisting field?
The Medical Assistant program at Hunter Business School prepares competent, entry-level medical assistants in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains required for professional practice.
The Medical Assistant program provides hands-on experience in a real medical setting where you can foster professional relationships with actual patients. Medical Assistant students spend 160 hours in an externship at a professional medical facility where they are supervised and taught in order to gain valuable on-the-job training.
Contact us today to find out more about how to become a medical assistant on Long Island.