Telehealth has become an increasing part of our regular connections with healthcare services, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. While certain situations will always require you to physically visit a healthcare center, much of the experience can be migrated online through telehealth technology, with current trends suggesting that this will be a solid part of the ‘new normal’.
The terms ‘telehealth’ and ‘telemedicine’ are often used interchangeably, but telehealth has a much wider scope. Both telehealth and telemedicine refer to engaging with healthcare services via devices like your smartphone or laptop, with numerous apps, platforms, and websites serving to connect patients with various service providers.
While telemedicine refers to clinical practices, such as consulting with medical practitioners and being treated by them over the internet, telehealth refers to a wider variety of medical care and services online.
Patient assistance and care services
These include transitional care management, care coordination, requesting prescription refills, reviewing test results, or setting up appointments.
This includes using wearable devices and home monitoring devices to keep track of various measurements, such as one’s blood pressure, or lung function.
Managing personal health records
These records, which include vital information, current diagnoses and medications, can be quickly accessed in the event of an emergency.
This involves helping the patients or their support group with resolving any technical difficulties they may be having with particular healthcare software, online access, mobile applications, or devices.
Benefits of Telehealth
Telehealth’s strongest benefit is giving patients the ability to reach medical services regardless of distance or difficulty in availing of transportation. This allows them more flexibility in scheduling with healthcare professionals.
One’s medical information can also be more efficiently shared, for instance among members of a medical team, or to emergency responders.
Telehealth allows patients to take better control of their own health, as in the case of the diabetic patient. Online tools give individuals the ability to learn more about how to manage their conditions, or inform decisions they make based on data gathered.
While there are some challenges to the widespread usage of telehealth in the United States due to questions of how telehealth expenses are reimbursed, the practice has received wide support from the medical community.
The American Academy of Family Physicians says they “[support] expanded use of telemedicine as an appropriate and efficient means of improving health, when conducted within the context of appropriate standards of care.”
Numerous studies recognize the use of telehealth in keeping both patients and healthcare workers safe during the pandemic by minimizing the risk of transmission. In a paper published in BMC Public Health, telehealth is seen as a potential way of providing continuous care to the community while reducing mortality due to the pandemic.
The World Health Organization recognizes how telehealth can contribute to achieving universal health coverage by allowing greater patient access to health services, and is particularly valuable in difficult to reach areas, especially with vulnerable or ageing populations.
NEJM Catalyst describes how telehealth technology will be key to bringing down healthcare costs as more institutions push for their use, signalling wider acceptance and use of these technologies in the near future.
Telehealth with Visaya
Improve your telehealth offerings together with Visaya. At Visaya, we recognize our role in helping medical organizations pursue their most important objective – taking care of the patient. This is more pressing now, as pandemic conditions continue to necessitate social distancing and dependence on communications technology.
We can help you run, maintain, or improve your telehealth services by providing support in the following areas:
Care coordination services
Transitional care management
Patient scheduling for onsite visits or virtual consultations
Practice management assistance
Remote patient monitoring
Other patient outreach services
Technical support and assistance
Telehealth: Technology meets health care
What is Telehealth?
The role of telehealth during COVID-19 outbreak: a systematic review based on current evidence
What’s the difference between telemedicine and telehealth?
What is Telehealth and How Can It Help Patients?