At-Home Diagnostic Testing
Store and Forward Telemedicine, Explained (with Examples)
As with other types of telehealth, store and forward telemedicine has gained popularity in recent years. This approach involves capturing and transmitting patient health information to healthcare providers for later review and diagnosis. In this blog, we explore the basics of store and forward telemedicine, including how it works, its benefits, and examples of its use in real-world scenarios. Whether you're a patient or a healthcare professional, understanding this approach to telemedicine can help you make informed decisions about healthcare.
What is store and forward telehealth?
Store and forward telehealth is a type of asynchronous telemedicine service that allows patients to submit clinical information for evaluation without an in-person visit. This may include an image, video, medical history, demographic data, or lab reports. While store and forward telemedicine does not allow the physician to examine a patient directly, it can improve efficiency and convenience, and removes transportation barriers to healthcare, such as lack of a private vehicle to attend in-person appointments.
What are three types of telehealth delivery models?
Synchronous, asynchronous, and remote are the three types of telehealth delivery models.
- Synchronous telehealth delivers health information in real-time, such as over live video or telephone with a physician.
- Store and forward telemedicine is asynchronous, meaning a patient or physician collects medical history, images, and reports to send to a specialist physician for diagnosis. This type of telemedicine does not require the patient and physician(s) to communicate in real-time.
- Remote patient monitoring allows for continuous evaluation of a patient’s clinical status. This can be done through video monitoring or review of tests and images.
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What are some examples of store and forward?
- Teledermatology offers remote dermatology support for medical conditions like acne, skin cancer, and allergic reactions.
- Teleradiology is the practice of sending images over the internet to a radiology team in another location to interpret the image and return a diagnostic. Some radiologists use teleradiology to collaborate with medical personnel in foreign countries.
- Teleophthalmology manages remote eye care through the transfer of digital images.
Which advantage does the store and forward teledermatology have over in-person dermatology?
In some cases, store and forward teledermatology can be more reliable than in-person dermatology if the teledermatologist is an expert. An experienced telederamtolgist is often better at identifying issues than a less experienced in-person dermatologist. While good quality pictures are essential for effective diagnosis and treatment, smartphones have made it easier for teledermatologists to evaluate problems based on store and forward submissions.
Who can benefit from store and forward telehealth?
Store and forward telehealth can benefit both patients and healthcare providers who are not in the same location and require asynchronous communication. Some examples include:
- Rural patients. 20% of the United States population resides in rural areas, and only 9% of physicians serve these areas.
- Patients of low socioeconomic status who face transportation barriers to healthcare like lack of a private vehicle or unreliable public transportation.
- Healthcare providers who need to review and interpret medical images, such as X-rays or MRIs.
- Patients with skin conditions who can send images of their skin to their healthcare providers for assessment and diagnosis.
- Patients with chronic conditions who require ongoing monitoring and communication with their healthcare providers.
How can store and forward telemedicine support other telehealth delivery models?
Store and forward telemedicine can support other types of telehealth by providing a way for healthcare providers to share and access patient data remotely. Here are a few ways in which store and forward telemedicine can complement other telehealth delivery models:
- Remote consultations: Store and forward telemedicine can be used to securely transmit patient data and images to healthcare providers for remote consultations, which can then be followed up with live video or phone consultations.
- Remote monitoring: Store and forward telemedicine can be used to collect patient data from at-home monitoring devices, which can then be transmitted to healthcare providers for remote monitoring and management of chronic conditions.
- Telepharmacy: Store and forward telemedicine can be used to transmit medication information and images to pharmacists for remote dispensing and monitoring of medications.
- Teleradiology: Store and forward telemedicine can be used to transmit medical images, such as X-rays and MRIs, to radiologists for remote interpretation and diagnosis.
By integrating store and forward telemedicine with other delivery models, healthcare providers can deliver high-quality care to patients in a convenient and cost-effective manner.
Store and forward telemedicine can improve the way healthcare is delivered, especially in remote and underserved areas. With the use of digital technologies, patient information can be transmitted securely and efficiently between healthcare providers, enabling timely diagnosis and treatment. The examples provided in this blog showcase how store and forward telemedicine can be used across various specialties, including dermatology, radiology, and ophthalmology. As technology continues to advance, we can expect store and forward telemedicine to become even more prevalent and accessible, ultimately improving patient outcomes and increasing access to quality healthcare for all.
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