Early hospital discharge of acutely infected patients to received outpatient parenteral antimicrobial therapy has been shown to be safe and effective. However, concerns over safety, potential litigation, and anxieties of the patient and family about not receiving professional care have limited the use of this approach. Telemedicine may overcome these barriers by allowing health care providers to monitor and communicate with acutely infected patients from a remote medical center via a home computer station transmitting audio, video, and vital signs data. Potential benefits of telemedicine include significant cost savings and faster convalescence, because patients at home may feel more comfortable and actively involved in their treatment than patients in the hospital. Clinical studies have shown that telemedicine is safe and cost-effective, compared with hospital treatment, in chronically ill and acutely infected patients. More studies are needed to further establish the widespread and increasing practice of telemedicine, which may represent the future of medicine.
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