What Is Telehealth? Examples Of Telehealth Systems
Telehealth is a new-ish term in the world of medicine, and it gets thrown around a lot in the news recently.
But, just what does telehealth mean, how is it being used, and why is it important for the future of healthcare?
Read on to learn more about this term and see how it is being utilized to help provide people with quick, efficient, and streamlined medical care.
The Definition of Telehealth
The official Oxford’s Dictionary definition of this term is: “the provision of healthcare remotely by means of telecommunications technology.”
And, as you can see, this is a very broad and loose definition.
But, basically, Telehealth is a broad term, and it includes telemedicine (an actual online visit with a healthcare provider), but it can also include a whole lot more.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) goes for a slightly more in-depth definition that better encompasses the specifics of what these remote activities are with their definition: “The use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration.”
Examples of Telehealth
One of the best ways to really understand what Telehealth is, and how it can function in a changing healthcare environment, is to give you just some of the many examples of Telehealth in action.
The following are examples of Telehealth in the world today:
Your usual in-person doctor offers follow-up video calls to see how your treatment is going. You log on to the office’s secure system and have a 10 minute “real-time” chat with your doctor to discuss how you are feeling and the next steps in your treatment.
You were just started on an insulin pump, and your doctor asks you to download a telehealth glucose-tracking app on your phone that will record your glucose levels over the course of the day and night. Your doctor reviews your levels from the app when you come in for follow up visits, and you are better able to learn how certain foods and activities cause your blood sugar to fluctuate.
A skilled-nursing facility institutes a remote patient monitoring program, where all patient’s vital signs, blood pressure, oxygen levels, etc. are forwarded to an off-site doctor working remotely. The doctor reviews the data and contacts the facility to make changes in care when needed in line with the information received.
You have an X-ray done, and your local radiology department wants a second opinion on the scan from someone who specializes in the issue being looked at. The X-ray information is securely transmitted from the imaging center to the specializing radiologist in seconds. The specialist is able to give the doctors more information about the scan that helps with your overall treatment.
You are a nurse who needs to complete their continuing education hours to renew your license. You have a really busy schedule, so you decide to sign up for a telehealth continuing education website that provides live instruction hours that fit in perfectly with your work schedule. You log in after work for the classes you selected and complete your renewal hours in no time.
Why Telehealth is Important
Every part of the world has evolved and changed with the development of the internet and other technologies that have made personal and professional connections possible, even over very far distances.
With telehealth, this can now bring nearly identical health care experiences to people whether they live in the busiest cities on earth with dozens of doctors to choose from, or if they live in a small rural town with no physicians practicing in the area.
The inclusion of telehealth apps can help patients better understand their conditions, and how measurable metrics improve or worsen during certain activities or times of day, or just help them track their progress to show their doctors later.
Telehealth is a great resource to improve understanding, compliance, and ease of care for all patients.
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