What is Telemedicine?

What is Telemedicine?

In today’s ever-changing climate people might wonder what is telemedicine, what are its benefits and is it going to be helpful for me?

Telemedicine was first introduced in the 1950s. Since then it has allowed seniors to age in place while accessing medical help remotely through the phone.

Today, telemedicine is a vital tool for all ages offering personalized care including diagnosis and treatment while maintaining social distance and limiting the spread of contagious diseases. The New York Times has quoted Dr. Stephen Parodi of Kaiser as saying “the use of telemedicine is going to be critical for management of this pandemic.”

Previously, telemedicine was restricted by state laws, since the COVID19 pandemic the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has relaxed laws governing HIPAA and telehealth allowing for good-faith assessment, diagnosis and treatment for conditions whether or not related to COVID19.

I am a chiropractor and most people would not think that I could offer telemedicine services. Yet, all kinds of health practitioners can and do offer consultation and health advice in areas such as healthy diets, immune-boosting protocols, exercises and movements to promote healing of injuries and chronic musculoskeletal conditions.

Some of the most basic advantages include cost savings, convenience and intelligent features. Here are some definitions:

  • Telemedicine — remote delivery of healthcare. 
  • Interactive Medicine — real-time communication between patients and providers while maintaining HIPAA compliance.
  • Store and Forward — patients and providers can share information.
  • Remote Patient Monitoring — caregivers can remotely monitor patients with mobile medical devices to collect data (e.g. blood sugar or blood pressure.)

Benefits of telemedicine

  • Transportation: patients avoid spending gas money or wasting time in traffic.
  • No missing work: patients can schedule a consultation during a work break or even after work hours at their convenience.
  • Childcare or eldercare challenges: juggling care for others can be difficult and telemedicine provides a solution.

Where telemedicine is best implemented

  • 75 percent of healthcare spending in the United States is dedicated to treating chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Addressing these conditions in real-time leads to better health outcomes.
  • Medication and nutraceutical management is a big deal, especially among seniors. Telemedicine leads to fewer hospital readmissions and enhances compliance.
  • Doctors and specialists in different locations can share healthcare information like diagnostic images and blood analysis.
  • Emergency room visits are one of the most expensive, overcrowded and stressful environments in healthcare. Telemedicine can help mitigate this while still providing relevant care.
  • Second opinions obtained from the comfort of home.
  • When disasters occur, local healthcare resources are immediately taxed and pulled in to provide both emergency and non-emergency care.

Telemedicine is one of the best ways to put some more slack into the system. 

Consult with your trusted providers to see if they provide telemedicine today.

My clinic, Optimized Wellness Center, 2381 Mariner Square Drive, Suite 170, is currently offering a free, 15-minute consultation for seniors and immune-compromised.  Everyone is invited to join my free online health talk about COVID-19 today, Thursday, March 26. Learn more at www.owcalameda.info/covid19.



Dr. Tim Heath DC, MBA, CCEP, is a board-certified primary-care doctor who runs Optimized Wellness Center, a multidisciplinary functional medicine practice in Alameda. Call 497-4424 or write info@owcalameda.com for an appointment.