Today, the Internet has been successful in bringing a major change in society. The rise of internet communication has changed the way we work, we live, we communicate to make and maintain good relationships with people even if they are far away from us. It allows people to stay in touch with each other even if they can meet physically. Now, we can easily make good relationships with people we have never seen from all around the world. Location can never be a barrier to communication between two people if they have a good internet connection. Besides all these benefits of the Internet, there is one more benefit that is changing the way of communication between a doctor and a patient. Millions of people today are going for telehealth to get their health issues cured without meeting a doctor physically. In this article, we will be exploring the term “Telehealth” and discuss the role of this technology in the improvement of the healthcare system. In the end, you’ll have a brief answer to the question- “What is Telehealth?”
Telehealth is the new norm today. It is defined as the supply and facilitation of health and health-related services via digital information and electronic devices such as computers, smartphones, tablets, desktops, etc.
What is the difference between telemedicine and telehealth?
To state the difference between telemedicine and telehealth, we must first understand the two terms briefly. Telemedicine solution includes the remote diagnosis of patients via telecommunication technologies while telehealth encompasses all the components and activities of the healthcare system conducted with telecommunication technologies. In a nutshell, telehealth and telemedicine are different because telehealth covers a broader scope of remote healthcare services as compared to telemedicine.
When did telehealth start?
To get our answers to the question- “What is telehealth?”, we must understand the origin of this technology and when was it first introduced. So let’s understand it first.
Back in the 1960s, telehealth was being used in monitoring the physiological status of astronauts. Slowly and gradually, with the rise of the internet, technologies, and other communication devices, several technological tools have been implemented to enable the transfer of patient information to the healthcare worker for recommendations of medicines and other consultations to get rid of the health issues associated with the patient. This transfer and receiving of information processes take place through remote monitoring and health communication. The healthcare service provider shares medical information and education regarding the disease or medical problem virtually. Various technologies are being developed to deploy telehealth in the health infrastructure including mobile health monitoring and facilitation via apps, video and audio technologies, digital photography, remote monitoring, and store and forward technologies. Mobile health monitoring and facilitation application allow the patient to track health measurements, set prescribed medication reminders, book doctor’s appointments and share information with the doctor. These mobile apps also allow the patient to communicate with the service providers via video conferencing and text messages after booking appointments.
1. Remote Patient Monitoring
This is a new technology used in telehealth systems. RPM or Remote Patient Monitoring involves reporting, collection, transmission, and evaluation of patients’ health-related data with the healthcare service provider using mobile devices or other electronic devices. Many electronic wearables are available in the market and help in collecting patient’s health-related data such as pulse rate, spO2 level, cardiac stats, sugar level, etc. RPM is an amazing technology that can help in the early detection of complications that can arise because of unseen diseases. It helps in identifying patients who need to seek medical attention. Experts say that patients with remote monitoring devices have a higher rate of survival than patients without them.
2. Store and Forward
It involves the collection, storage, and transmission of patient’s health data for the delivery of healthcare using data storage and transmission techniques. The reports like CAT scans, X-rays, MRIs, etc can be easily shared with the healthcare service provider using mobile devices or other electronic devices. The patient’s gathered data is then forwarded to the specialists for the evaluation of the case and medication assistance. Secured servers and transmission platforms are used in the store and forward telehealth technology.
3. Goals of Telehealth
So now that you have understood the term, in brief, let’s talk about the objectives behind the development of telehealth or e-health or m-health:
- Facilitate access to healthcare facilities in rural areas or isolated communities.
- Provide healthcare services to people as readily as possible with limited transportation options
- Online consultation of a patient with a medical specialist
- Provide better communication among the healthcare team
- Improve patient outcomes virtually
- Improvise patient satisfaction virtually
- Make the best use of limited physician resources
- Reduce the cost
- Provide 27 X 7 healthcare support to the patient
- Reduce hospital admissions
Types of Telehealth technologies for virtual care
With the increasing development of apps, websites, and many other technologies, telehealth is now all around us. From the text reminder of your next appointment with your doctor to the after-visit health data document, telehealth is prevailing in today’s tech industry and is a point of focus for many of the IT companies who are looking to create innovative solutions and create a next business opportunity in transforming the health infrastructure.
The potential uses of Telehealth far extend beyond the scope of COVID-19 services. There are many varieties of telehealth existing in the world, but today we will be covering the four major types of telehealth prevailing in today’s medical industry. The benefit of each type is unique in its own way and it completely depends on what you need to get a full scope of your health.
1. Live Video conferencing
This type of telehealth is also known as synchronous care. It involves real-time interaction between the patient and the doctor via video conferencing software or tool. From the local government hospitals to the prestigious private hospitals, video-based consultations and communications between a doctor and a patient are being done everywhere. This type of telehealth is widely used all around the world as it not only eliminates the stress of patients and healthcare providers but also allows access to healthcare to rural areas which otherwise do not have such facilities locally. Here, images are used for evaluation, and email and other text-based technologies are used to provide follow-up instructions to the patients.
2. Store and Forward
As we have already discussed, this telehealth type is a technique of storing and delivering a patient’s documented health history to the healthcare provider or the patient himself. It is also known as asynchronous video technology. It is commonly used in rural areas where providers are not available in nearby locations as so the patient is consulting a doctor outside the town. It is effective in areas where healthcare specialists are scarce. Here also, emails and other text-based technologies are used in providing follow-up instructions to the patients.
3. Remote Patient Monitoring
This technique helps in storing and transmitting patient’s medical data from in-home devices to healthcare specialists. It is majorly used by senior citizens who are cannot go for regular health checkups to the hospitals. The data transmission that takes place in remote patient monitoring can be either synchronous or asynchronous.
4. mHealth (Mobile health):
This type of telehealth only requires the use of smartphones and health-based apps should be installed in the smartphone. These healthcare apps can monitor patient’s medical conditions on a regular basis. It keeps a track of the patient’s blood sugar level, oxygen level, and also monitors one’s daily water intake. These apps encourage a healthy lifestyle and also collect patient’s regular health records.
Benefits of integrating telehealth in the healthcare system
Telehealth has played a very important role in decreasing the COVID 19 spread by increasing social distancing and providing healthcare facilities to patients at home. Virtual healthcare service is a safer option for both healthcare professionals as well as the patients by reducing the potential risk of infection spread. Also, it minimizes the surge in demand of medical facilities and reduces the use of PPE by healthcare professionals which otherwise they have to use all day while doing a physical health checkup of the patient.
Telehealth also facilitates immediate care to the patients preventing them from the care delays in chronic diseases. Here are the other benefits of using telehealth services:
- It can be used in examining the patients showing COVID-19 symptoms and provide the appropriate health care routines and medical treatment
- It is used to provide low-cost treatment to COVID patients
- It is used in providing immediate healthcare to patients that are urgently in need.
- Telehealth provides people with access to primary care providers and specialists to cure mental and behavioral health disorders also.
- With telehealth, people can be taught meditation to cure mental disorders, diabetes, anxiety, and many other diseases.
- It allows healthcare professionals to coach and support patients managing chronic health conditions.
- It allows professionals in weight management and nutrition counseling.
- Many patients need continuous health care and counseling even after hospitalization. Telehealth gives them an option to communicate with doctors and share health-related data with them.
- It will allow people to participate in virtual health therapies.
- It allows patients or normal people to monitor clinical signs of certain medical conditions ( eg, blood pressure, sugar level, pulse rate, etc.)
- It helps in providing virtual training to health care professionals from specialists all around the world from their comfort locations. It helps in conducting peer-to-peer professional medical consultations that are locally unavailable.
- Non-emergency patients can easily gain access to health care facilities from any location without being physically present in the health clinic.
If you have planned to have a Telehealth solution. NCrypted Technologies have the right solutions developed by our capable and innovative workforce just for you. We offer customized and innovative features as per your requirement to let you launch a successful Telehealth solution.