What is Telemedicine?
Telehealth is the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, and public health and health administration. These technologies include videoconferencing, the Internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and land and wireless communications.
Telemedicine began over 40 years ago to assist patients in extremely remote areas. Since then, technology has advanced, allowing greater access to everyone, near or far. Regardless of location, patients and their health care providers can connect to discuss their health care concerns and needs securely.
Applications for telehealth/medicine can include the following:
- Live video conferencing: a two-way audiovisual link between a patient and a care provider
- Store-and-forward videoconferencing: transmission of recorded health history to a health practitioner, usually a specialist.
- Remote patient monitoring (RPM): the use of connected electronic tools to record personal health and medical data in one location for review by a provider in another area, usually at a different time.
- Mobile health (mHealth): health care and public health information provided through mobile devices. The information may include general educational information, targeted texts, and notifications about disease outbreaks.
Why is Telehealth important?
The importance of Telehealth has increased exponentially. Local and global health pandemics, such as the novel COVID-19, has proven the value of Telemedicine. Health care becomes safer, more efficient, and even cost-effective by removing barriers of time, distance, and provider scarcities. Services such as remote patient monitoring, patient consulting, and specialized health information are all possible via telemedicine.
How do I use Telehealth services?
To find out if you have access to telehealth services, call your health care provider. If you are a senior citizen, you can receive no cost telehealth during the COVID-19 crisis. For more information call 888-392-8889 or click here to learn more.
What is the future for Telehealth?
There is still room for Telemedicine to grow. Currently, limited Medicare coverage impedes the expansion of telehealth services and allows only real-time, two-way video conferencing capabilities. There are also significant federal and state legal and regulatory issues that stipulate how providers offer their services. With the usefulness, popularity and cost effectiveness of Telehealth, especially when dealing with highly communicable diseases and viruses, these issues are likely to be resolved quickly.
Contributed by A. Mecham