Conflicting challenges strain the U.S. healthcare system. The cost of care continues to rise while medical and wellness organizations struggle to provide comprehensive health services to all areas. Remote areas are often underserved by medical professionals, particularly by specialists, but remote locations aren’t the only problem. In a study published by the American Academy of Dermatology, for example, researchers found that people in underserved primary care urban settings often have little access to dermatologic care.

According to the Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP), store and forward telemedicine technologies increase health care service efficiency and extend patient access to specialty care without needing to travel from their primary care location. Patients benefit from shorter appointment wait times and fewer language and cultural barriers with telemedicine. Primary care physicians can transfer diagnostic information and consult with specialists regarding patients without waiting for multiple visits back and forth. Store and forward capabilities allow the specialists to control their time to review cases when it is best for them rather than work with real-time televideo sessions.The most common medical specialty use of store and forward technologies presently include radiology, pathology, dermatology, and ophthalmology, the CCHP reports. Physicians can forward X-rays and MRI’s, photos of skin conditions, and digital images captured by retinal cameras, for three examples, for diagnosis, treatment, and preventive care.

Telemedicine for efficient access to medical specialists joins remote onsite rescue applications, surgical follow-up, mental health services, and rural clinic resource enrichment on the growing list of cost-efficient ways to provide care to the broadest population possible.