What is Telemedicine: Key Advantages and Best Practices for Your Practice

Explore the best practices and the benefits of incorporating telemedicine.

Telemedicine has become an indispensable tool for Direct Care practices, especially in the wake of the global pandemic. This technology not only facilitates healthcare access to a broader patient base but also significantly enhances the convenience of both you and your patients.

This article delves into the intricacies of telemedicine, outlining its definition, the contexts in which it is applicable, its significant advantages, and the best practices for its successful integration into medical practices.

What are Telemedicine and Telehealth?

In the healthcare sector, the terms telemedicine and telehealth are often used interchangeably, yet they have distinct meanings. Telemedicine, a subset of telehealth, specifically focuses on clinical services. It involves using technology to deliver medical care from a distance, as defined by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). Telemedicine maintains the same standards and ethics as traditional medicine, including adherence to HIPAA guidelines and proper documentation. The primary difference lies in the method of delivery, which utilizes digital platforms.

Telehealth is a broader term that encompasses all forms of digitally delivered medical services and health education. It goes beyond clinical services to include patient education, health information services, and self-care through telecommunication and digital communication tools.

The healthcare sector has recently undergone a significant digital transformation, with Direct Care also embracing these changes. Particularly during the pandemic, telemedicine has proven instrumental in sustaining healthcare delivery during challenging times. Since then, many Direct Primary Care and Direct Specialty Care Practices have been offering virtual care services as part of their membership, facilitating direct patient-clinician communication.

Dr. Greg Brown, Family Physician and Founder of Gebito Medical, outlines the disparities in appointments between Direct Care Practice and the Traditional Health System, underscoring virtual care as a key method for fostering patient connectivity.

"Most Direct Primary Care practices cap their patients at 400 to 600 patients instead of 2 or 3 thousand. We can spend half an hour or an hour if needed, whether a patient just needs a virtual visit for a sore throat or once a longer visit to talk about having a plan for the future. So it allows us to really get to know our patients really participate in their healthcare."Dr. Greg BrownFamily Physician

What Types of Care Can You Give to Your Patient Using Telemedicine?

1. Preventive Care Advice

Telemedicine can be used to provide guidance on preventive care and lifestyle changes, helping patients maintain a healthy life.

2. Chronic Disease Management

For conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and asthma, continuous monitoring and regular consultations are vital.

3. Mental Health Services

Telepsychiatry has become increasingly popular, providing therapy and counseling sessions via video conferencing.

4. Follow-up Visits

Routine follow-ups for post-operative care or to review test results can be efficiently handled through telehealth, saving time and resources for both patients and doctors.

5. Medication Management

Telemedicine allows for regular check-ins to manage and adjust medications, especially important for patients with chronic conditions.

Limitation of Telemedicine

While telemedicine is a valuable resource in many healthcare scenarios, it is crucial to understand its limitations. For instance, in cases requiring physical examinations, intricate procedures, or urgent interventions, telemedicine may not be the most suitable option. 

Face-to-face consultations remain imperative for certain medical assessments, especially those that demand a hands-on approach or specialized equipment that cannot be replicated virtually. Additionally, for patients with severe or life-threatening conditions, immediate in-person medical attention is indispensable.

Advantages of Telemedicine

The incorporation of telemedicine presents several advantages that contribute to the enhancement of patient care and overall healthcare accessibility:

Increased Accessibility

Telemedicine transcends geographical barriers, making your healthcare services accessible to patients in remote or underserved areas. Patients can seek medical advice and consultation without having to travel long distances, thereby reducing the burden of transportation and associated costs.

Enhanced Convenience

Telemedicine offers unparalleled convenience for patients, enabling them to schedule appointments and receive consultations from the comfort of their homes. This convenience is particularly beneficial for individuals with mobility limitations, busy schedules, or those seeking non-urgent medical advice.

A notable example is the Diabetes Care Program from TeleMed2U, serving patients across the United States. Dr. Stuart Seigel, Director of Endocrinology at TeleMed2U, notes that patients desire easy access to quality healthcare. 

"We treat each video visit as if it were in the office, creating similar workflows that include a medical assistant to assist with patient connection and intake, as well as comprehensive reminder systems featuring text messages and phone calls."Dr. Stuart SeigelDirector of Endocrinology at TeleMed2U

Improved Efficiency

By leveraging telemedicine, you can streamline your operations, reduce waiting times, and optimize your schedules, thereby enhancing overall practice efficiency. Virtual consultations can be conducted more swiftly, enabling you to attend to a greater number of patients within a shorter timeframe.


For both patients and Direct Care Clinician, telemedicine can result in cost savings. Patients can avoid expenses associated with travel and accommodation, while you can potentially reduce administrative costs and optimize resource allocation - Eg: you can choose for a smaller Medical Office.

Telemedicine Best Practices

To ensure the effective integration of telemedicine into medical practices, it is essential to adhere to certain best practices:

Secure Communication Channels 

Implement secure and encrypted communication channels to protect patient data and uphold confidentiality. Compliance with regulatory standards, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act - HIPAA, is crucial to safeguarde both the patients' data and the clinicians' practice from legal implications.

SigmaMD's platform rigorously adheres to HIPAA guidelines, guaranteeing the security and privacy of patient information.

Technical Training for Staff

Provide comprehensive training to healthcare staff to ensure they are proficient in operating telemedicine technologies and platforms. Familiarize them with the protocols for virtual consultations, patient data management, and any specific guidelines related to telemedicine practices.

Choosing an easy-to-use platform, such as SigmaMD, can ensure that your virtual consultations are as effective and personal as face-to-face meetings. These calls, initiated by clinicians through the SigmaMD Clinician interface, are straightforward to start. You simply click the video button located below the chat in an encounter. Upon initiation, patients receive a prompt via SMS, giving them a 30-second window to join the call and commence the session.

Additionally, having the Telemedicine feature as part of your All-in-One Platform helps you and your team to save time, enabling you to focus more on patient care and less on administrative tasks.

Patient Education and Engagement

Educate patients about the functionalities of telemedicine to manage their expectations effectively. Encourage active patient participation during virtual consultations and provide necessary guidance on the proper usage of telemedicine platforms.

According to Dr. Stuart Seigel of TeleMed2U, they have implemented several best practices to enhance patient experience. They treat each video visit as if it were in the office, creating similar workflows that include a medical assistant to assist with patient connection and intake, as well as a comprehensive reminder system featuring text messages and phone calls.

Quality Assurance and Follow-up

Implement measures for patient satisfaction assurance, such as monitoring the effectiveness of telemedicine consultations, collecting patient feedback, and ensuring timely follow-up on treatment plans and recommendations. Regularly assess the impact of telemedicine on patient outcomes and make necessary adjustments to improve the quality of care.

In conclusion, the integration of telemedicine into healthcare practices has proven to be a transformative step toward providing accessible, convenient, and efficient healthcare services. By understanding the scope of telemedicine, recognizing its benefits, and adhering to best practices, you can harness the full potential of telemedicine to cater to a wider patient base while upholding the highest standards of patient care and clinical excellence.

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