Telemedicine: What is it about?

Article
Published 2 weeks ago

Language barrier, cost or trouble being comfortable with practitioners in your host country... finding adequate healthcare abroad can be tricky. This new concept could, however, improve medical monitoring for expatriates: telemedicine. Expat.com tells you more about telemedicine and how it could change your experience with living abroad but also its limitations...

What is telemedicine?

Telemedicine, or remote medicine, is a medical practice that relies on connecting patients to doctors abroad or bringing members of the medical profession together through telecommunication. If telemedicine cannot and should not replace a physical examination, it can give a primary course of action to patients that, for one reason or another, does not have adequate or urgent access to healthcare. These are the different types of services offered:

  • Teleconsultation, a remote online consultation that relies on an evolution of the patient's condition through communication.
  • Medical tele-assistance which allows a professional to advise or assist virtually another professional on a medical procedure.
  • Remote surveillance that allows the transmission of useful information to health professionals to guide the diagnosis.
  • Telexpertise that connects two professionals to discuss a specific subject or to exchange advice.
  • Regulation that allows a first diagnosis, especially in case of emergency, to guide the patient on the appropriate care.

Telemedicine among expatriates

Across the world a bunch of companies have become renowned for pairing patients with doctors from abroad. Some specific to certain countries, while others have enlisted doctors from around the world. Health insurance companies around the world have also started provided cover for teleconsultations and treatment. In France, for example, telemedicine is listed in the public health code since 2010 and is covered by the national health insurance provider for French citizens abroad since December 2018.

Benefits and limitations

Affordable services, the comfort of exchanging in one's mother tongue and of being followed by practitioners one might already be familiar with, telemedicine represents many advantages for expatriates. Here are some examples of when expatriates can resort to telemedicine:

  • Discussing a concern and seeking advice on the care needed.
  • Following up on a problem or treatment previously carried out in one’s home country.
  • Being advised in the interpretation of medical exams.

But be careful, it must be kept in mind that the practice of telemedicine is only complementary and absolutely can not replace a physical medical monitoring. Expats should follow the advice of online practitioners and then move to professionals on the spot to be supported.