What is Telemedicine and How Can it Support Expats?

Telemedicine is the latest revolution in healthcare, utilising technology to connect individuals with healthcare professionals. Telemedicine is fast becoming an important part of expats’ healthcare provision, and is often already included in your international health insurance. In this guide, we explain exactly what telemedicine is, what sort of healthcare can be conducted via telemedicine, and the benefits it can bring expats.

What is telemedicine?

Telemedicine, also known as telehealth, refers to the practice of providing healthcare for patients via technology. It works by using your computer or smartphone to connect you with a doctor or other healthcare professional, so you can both have a conversation without being in the same room. Often this is done via a video call but can also be conducted via messaging. In some cases, a special device can be used to monitor the patient remotely.

The software used will be secure and integrated. Healthcare professionals will be able to capture information and readings, so they can analyse what’s required for the patient from a distant location.

What types of care can be done via telemedicine?

A variety of healthcare can be conducted via telemedicine. You can have consultations for numerous conditions, such as viruses and stomach aches, without having to leave your home. You can also have consultations for skin issues and other recurring conditions such as migraines.

Mental health treatment can often be done via telemedicine, by having online therapy and counselling via video calls. Post-surgical follow-ups can be done online, with your healthcare professional being able to check in that everything is as it should be, wherever you have chosen to have your recovery period. You can also have results communicated via telemedicine, rather than having to go into a specific hospital or facility.

Monitoring devices can be used to keep track of certain conditions that require ongoing management, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

What are the benefits of telemedicine for expats?

Telemedicine has numerous benefits, particularly for expats who are living abroad.

Can be conducted in remote locations

In many countries, the healthcare provision in remote, rural areas is of lower quality than in urban areas. For expats living abroad in these remote locations, telemedicine can connect them with the best healthcare professionals, so they can still get the best possible treatment.

Care from the comfort of your home

When you’re unwell, you may not want to have to travel to a facility to get your healthcare. Telemedicine lets you access the care you need from the comfort of your home, without having to travel. This can be hugely beneficial whether you’re recovering from surgery or if you have a virus that has caused fatigue.

It also means you won’t have to worry about spreading illness to other people, and also you won’t have to be concerned about picking up another illness at a healthcare facility when your immune system may be compromised.

More choice for healthcare professionals

Telemedicine can often give you more choices for the healthcare professionals you speak to. This can be a huge benefit if you live in an area where you have a language barrier. Even if you have a foundation of the local language, communicating for medical issues can be tricky.

Using telemedicine for your consultations can therefore connect you with doctors and healthcare professionals who speak your language, and who might not be available in your immediate region. This can give you peace of mind that you have full understanding of your health issue and the treatment that is required.  

Shorter wait times

In many countries, healthcare can come with long wait times, even for just a GP consultation. Because of the convenience of telemedicine, there are typically shorter wait times for appointments, and you can even get an appointment out of office hours. This can be a big relief if you have a health issue that you want sorted quickly and can give you the reassurance that you need that any issues are in the right hands.

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