Telemedicine: The New Form of Healthcare

A Guide to this Growing Type of Interactive Healthcare and its Relation to Music Therapy.

New innovations in our society are constantly being produced, and technology is constantly being improved. Technology brings us together, providing ways to connect with people when distance and time wouldn’t otherwise allow it.

Improvements in technology aren’t only making it easier to connect. New technology has impacted all important aspects of our society: the workplace, life at home, transportation, healthcare, etc.

Over the past few decades, the growth of telemedicine as a healthcare practice has gained major traction and become more relevant in the lives of everyday people. Telemedicine has a wide range of uses, one of which being music therapy, for both mental and physical health.

In this blog specifically, we’ll be going over a two major points:

  • A broad introduction to telemedicine
  • How telemedicine is used in music therapy

Introduction to Telemedicine

Have you ever received lab results online instead of at your doctor’s office? What about calling your child’s doctor when they are sick to help manage symptoms?

These are both examples of different forms of telemedicine.

But what exactly is telemedicine?

Telemedicine is the use of various technologies to communicate and provide health services to patients through an online format; with telemedicine, there is no need for an in-person visit. Different from telemedicine, telehealth is the range of technologies used to provide patient care and health services. Therefore, telemedicine is a type of telehealth used in place of in-person health appointments.

Telemedicine has been used since the 1950s, yet in recent decades it has become increasingly more accessible. Today, the practice of telemedicine is more common, more easily accessible and more affordable than in-person visits. 

There are also three main types of telemedicine consultation:

  • Store-and-Forward solutions- Medical professionals are able to share patient care data, such as lab images or tests results, with telemedicine providers and other professionals. This can help in situations where sharing information is necessary, such as receiving help from a specialist to determine a patient’s diagnosis.
  • Remote patient monitoring- Healthcare providers are able to monitor a patient’s health without the patient being in a medical facility. For example, a provider may check a patient’s heart rate to look for any irregular rhythms while the patient is at home.
  • Real-time telehealth- This is the most common form of telemedicine. Real-time telehealth includes interaction between the provider and the patient through video chats, phone calls, etc. This is the best solution for people when going to a doctor’s office for care is not practical.

Services provided through telemedicine can be done in a multitude of ways- this includes video chatting, audio calling, or even text messaging. This means that as long as both the provider and the patient have internet access, services can be provided in any location.

This type of accessibility is one major advantage of telemedicine. Through using telemedicine, a patient can receive care literally anywhere in the world that has internet.

There are lot of other advantages of telemedicine, including:

Telemedicine is worth giving a try for any person, but especially worth it for those of which the traditional form of healthcare doesn’t suit. 

Telemedicine and Music Therapy

So, how can telemedicine be used in conjunction with music therapy?

Music therapy treatment using telemedicine is more limited in the sense that certain techniques aren’t feasible without some sort of additional component. Techniques that involve physical movement or hands-on interaction cannot be used in telemedicine without an in-person assistant helping the patient; therefore, music therapy through telemedicine is typically much more focused on aspects similar to talk therapy. For example, a music therapy session through telemedicine might include listening to music and discussing feelings that the music evoked. 

However, even though music therapy through telemedicine is more limited in the techniques that can be used, it is just as effective. 

Sessions using telemedicine can be used with patients of a wide range of ages. It is not typically recommended for patients under the age of six to do sessions through telemedicine because it is more difficult for them to stay engaged with on-screen rather than in-person. However, music therapy using telemedicine can be used with patients of any age in certain circumstances. 

There are also a variety of cases in which music therapy through telemedicine may be more beneficial than sessions held in-person:

  • Teenagers and young adults often juggle busy schedules that may or may not include school, work, extra-curriculars, family responsibilities, and much more. For many young people, finding a convenient time in their schedule for sessions on a regular basis is tough. Sessions through telemedicine, however, are more convenient due to time flexibility and the lack of need for transportation to an office or medical facility.
  • For patients with social anxiety, using telemedicine as an alternative to traditional music therapy may be the key to success. Having sessions over video in an environment where the patient feels safe will allow them to focus on the session and engage more with their music therapist.
  • Children with certain behavioral disorders such as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) may react better to therapy when given a choice as to which type of therapy they prefer: in-person therapy or telemedicine. Patients with ODD often struggle with being told what to do, even if it is in their best interest. Giving a patient with ODD a choice, such as which type of therapy they wish to do, will both encourage choice-making as well as ensure that the patient receives the health care they need.
  • Music therapists may also consult with other professionals such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, or speech language pathologists to co-treat patients and address their needs. When an in-person meeting may not be feasible, telemedicine can help music therapists and their fellow professionals share data and solutions to best treat their common patient.

These are only a few ways that music therapy through telemedicine can be highly beneficial for different types of patients.

Telemedicine as a form of healthcare has been around for decades, and has been gaining popularity rapidly in the past few years.

As a health practice, telemedicine is accessible and beneficial to a wide range of patients. 

In relation to music therapy specifically, telemedicine is just as effective as the traditional session format. In fact, for patients with specific needs, telemedicine can be a more beneficial alternative than in-person sessions.

If you are interested in music therapy, but the in-person style of sessions may not work for you, then you are not alone. Music therapy through telemedicine may be the right solution for you.

Edited by Cara Jernigan on January 17, 2021

Mason Thompson
Mason Thompson is a high school senior, dog lover, and coffee enthusiast in Owensboro, Ky. She is thrilled to have completed a writing internship with Incadence during her final semester of high school. In the Fall she is excited to begin Brown University with a major in psychology with addition studies in women's and gender studies and sociology. Following her internship, She has stayed on the Incadence staff and is hopeful her writing will continue to help inform individuals about music therapy and healthcare.
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