Skype's Role In Reforming Telehealth Services
By James Barnett. Posted on 20 Mar 2013
Skype is playing a leading role in the introduction of virtual clinic services to healthcare operations around the world. ‘Telehealth’ services which represent the delivery of medical care via telecommunications have successfully been rolled out across the US and UK. The introduction has been made possible by the Skype video platform and the successful test results of patient doctor consultations online. NHS pilot programmes revealed an11% decrease in missed appointments and an enthusiasm amongst patients for services which retain quality care virtually.
Skype does not support the same audio and video standards as Cisco products and many industry leaders are calling for Skype to be compliant with industry standards. Government intervention is an option which many have advocated from the Cisco team and there is a strong case within the EU due its fair rulings on competition. However although unfriendly preferences of interoperability can hinder consumer choice many enterprises would rather ditch Cisco for Skype as it is a less expensive alternative.
‘Digital First’ policies outlined in healthcare savings schemes could make the virtual clinic a permanent factor in unilateral healthcare. The UK’s health secretary Jeremy Hunt believes £3 billion can be saved primarily due to arranging virtual meetings between doctors and patients. Skype isn’t just accessible to the patients from home but can be used on mobile applications and iPads which can serve as reliable interface for patients on the move. Skype video would also allow appointments, pre op screaming and remote test delivery to be completed online.
There is an argument that videoconferencing removes intimate consultations which allows GP’s to diagnose patients from body language. Whilst this may be true to a degree, the consultation will never need to be compulsory and more serious cases will only be allowed in face to face meetings which will help alleviate fears of medical negligence malpractice. Access to the internet is almost universal in developed nations and Skype’s ideological belief that removing barriers of communication can change the world is likely to be revolutionary in the future of Telehealth.
Author Bio – Jim Barnett is an academic in New Media & Communications examining the impact the impact of video-conference services within the healthcare sector.
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