Telehealth services are being adopted more quickly than any other healthcare related service in the past decade. There are pilot programs all over the country in all different types of medical fields using telehealth or telemedicine to help patients.
Telehealth is predicted to continue growing rapidly because it offers patients a quicker, more convenient way to receive care. — care that comes in many different forms. Just like its definitions. Many use the terms telehealth and telemedicine interchangeably. The federal government has their own definition, however, the 50 states that primarily regulate this area all have their own definitions, with some of them defining one term or both in their laws.
The bottom line is using this technology is changing the way patients are diagnosed, treated, and monitored. To understand the breath of scope that is covered under this category the May/June issue of the Physician Leadership Journal provided some examples of current telehealth services:
- Provider-to-Provider – A physician in a remote location presents a patient to a consultant in a central location. For example, a telestroke program allows a neurologist to evaluate the CT scan of a distant patient to determine the correct type of treatment.
- Direct-to-Consumer – Consumers have an online video conference with a physician or ask questions through email. Many insurers and employers are offering these services as part of their healthcare programs.
- Patient-to-Physician – Most often used upon discharge from a hospital a patient uses at-home monitoring technology sometimes even just an iPad to record readings, helping clinicians keep tabs on patients with chronic conditions.
- Consumer Networks – Patients with specific medical conditions can share symptoms, treatments and provide support through online communities such as PatientsLikeMe.com and Smart Patients.com
- Wearable Devices – Sensors track and transmit all kinds of data including, heart rate, activity level, blood pressure, etc. about the individual wearer to inform that person’s lifestyle decisions.
- Mobile Health Applications – There are more than 4,000 mobile health applications that provide smartphone users with access to all kinds of online medical information for things like self-diagnosis, medication management and chronic disease tracking.
Source: Physician Leadership Journal. Telehealth, Telemedicine Predicted to Grow Rapidly. May/June 2015. PP 12-13.