The recent pandemic revealed the importance of patient education and why patients need to be involved in their care management. Today, more and more organizations have employed Telehealth technology to promote patient engagement, a key element in encouraging positive patient behavior. Telehealth cuts through geographical location and physical disability barriers that would hinder patients from accessing healthcare services.

Today, there are lesser hurdles to service access, especially for people in remote and rural areas. Instead of scheduling appointments and spending a significant part of your day in a hospital, you can now access the same care at a reduced cost through other means such as video conferencing and store-and-forward imaging. Below is what you need to know about Telehealth.

What is Telehealth?

Telehealth delivers health and health-related services through digital communication technologies such as video conferencing, remote patient monitoring, and mobile health apps. Most of these technologies are those you have at home or use daily, such as your smartphone and computer.

It eliminates the hustle of driving or making way to your doctor’s office ever so often, meaning you can access health services whenever you are in need. Almost anyone can benefit from this improved healthcare service, from individuals with diabetes to those with arthritis pain.

How does Telehealth differ from telemedicine?

Medical professionals use Telehealth and telemedicine interchangeably, but Telehealth encapsulates various digital activities and services. To better understand these terms, it is essential first to define telemedicine.

What is telemedicine?

Telemedicine refers to healthcare providers’ diagnosis and treatment of various medical problems through telecommunication. It encompasses the use of technologies such as live video conferencing and mobile apps to deliver healthcare services to geographically separated patients from medical facilities. For example, a doctor may have a consultation session with a patient via a video, or a radiologist could interpret the results of a test for an individual in a different country.

Unlike telemedicine which specifically involves remote clinical care, Telehealth covers all healthcare services provided through telecommunication. For example, it covers patient education, provider-to-provider remote communication, and devices that transmit vital signs. The following are the standard Telehealth services.

Telehealth services that benefit patients in remote areas

Virtual appointments

Sometimes an in-person visit may be challenging, especially for patients living in remote areas or for individuals who are physically incapacitated. Virtual appointments are online sessions with your doctor that can take place via online video conferencing. It allows patients to receive ongoing care from their regular doctors even when they can’t make it to the facility due to different reasons. These services are majorly beneficial for patients with minor illnesses.

Through a virtual appointment, you can notify your healthcare provider of any symptoms you have been experiencing, and your doctor or nurse prescribes medications or suggests home care practices to improve your well-being.

Remote monitoring

Medical conditions such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes require frequent monitoring, which can be stressful if solely restricted to in-person appointments. Using a variety of technologies, your healthcare team can monitor you remotely. For example, wearable devices can record and transmit vital information such as your heart rate, physical activity, posture control, sleeping pattern, and blood glucose.

Patients with diabetes can also upload their blood sugar reading on a mobile health app, allowing the doctor access to the information. These are essential components that help you, and your doctor determines if your health is improving or deteriorating.

Patient portal

It is a more secure alternative to other communication means such as emails. While your doctor can communicate through email, it is not the preferred mode of communication, especially about private medical information. A portal is a more secure platform that allows you to communicate with your healthcare provider whenever you need, request prescription refills, review diagnostic results, and schedule appointments.

It is easier to contact your doctor or nurse through a patient portal without the worry of visiting their offices. Patient portals can also serve as a single point for communication between you and other specialists your physician may recommend. Since it simplifies access to health services, it makes it easier for patients to seek help whenever they feel unwell.

Keeping all patients engaged in your practice in a growing remote world is essential. Delivering healthcare services has never been this more accessible and convenient for the providers and patients.

Disclaimer: The statements, opinions, and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of Credihealth and the editor(s). 

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