In addition to allowing doctors to apply their skills and expertise to patients beyond easy reach, such as those from rural communities, telemedicine can accelerate the medical examination process for patients in any circumstances. Cameras and other remotely operated devices, in combination with powerful encryption and network-connection tools, can allow doctors to study scanned images and diagnose patients across an electronic connection with the same accuracy as a personal examination. This not only helps to preserve hospital access and resources for emergencies, it allows doctors to be better prepared for a patient’s arrival on such an occasion and begin administering treatment sooner.
U.S. military medics particularly appreciate this aspect of the technology, since it allows them to examine a patient and transmit detailed information on the nature of an injury ahead of evacuation. This is far preferable to the previous method of simply filling out a card and tying it to the patient with a wire.
The possibility of being able to treat patients remotely is significant in other scenarios as well. NASA has long considered the possibility of an astronaut becoming injured or ill, and the agency being unable to abort the mission and return to Earth in time for treatment. At present, NASA is interested in the many applications of ultrasound technology for the crew of the International Space Station. This is because ultrasound can provide detailed tissue scans of patients, and it has been successfully used during the treatment of certain conditions like internal bleeding, potentially preventing death from a traumatic injury.