With advancements in technology and rapid innovation, the world has witnessed a tremendous rise in telehealth services. Simply put, telehealth refers to a broad range of digital health services using telecommunication technologies to deliver remote medical care to patients in any geographical area.
Telehealth is sometimes called m-health (mobile health) or e-health (electronic health) as it employs various methods for medical practitioners to provide and support those in need. This is particularly great as we are living in a COVID world where access may be limited to many individuals seeking medical assistance.
Lying at the intersection of healthcare and technology, telehealth is the present and future of the healthcare industry. This is why it is important to know the different types of telehealth so that you can improve your healthcare management, delivery, and access.
One of the greatest ways that telehealth helps patients is by real-time engagement with doctors and medical professionals via telephone, messaging service platform, live chats, or video conferencing. Real-time telehealth may sometimes be referred to as synchronous telehealth as it allows patients in any part of the world to immediately consult and seek medical help just as they would in an in-person consultation.
While real-time telemedicine is usually utilized for taking medical histories and reviewing and evaluating patient physical health problems, it can also be used by therapists for real-time virtual treatment and therapy.
Platforms such as XRhealth are instrumental in leading us into a new world where licensed therapists remotely treat their patients using a Virtual Reality (VR) headset with FDA-registered applications. This is a fantastic way to seek therapy and counseling from the comfort of your home.
Remote Patient Monitoring
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is a type of telehealth delivery system that uses technology to capture medical and health data of patients outside the traditional hospital setting. In a world where travel is already restricted, RPM demand has skyrocketed, especially for those with chronic conditions who may not be able to physically go to the hospital or clinic to report their symptoms or signs.
What’s best is that RPM is an efficient, fast, and cost-effective way to monitor the health of patients. It also allows instant access to patient records as everything can be accessed with just a click of a button.
Having a good RPM system means that apart from just collecting patient data, healthcare providers need to account for the safe storage of that data as well. From patient vital signs to test results, all this needs a robust health information infrastructure, such as a laboratory information system (LIS), that makes storing, tracking, and management easy. This makes having a LIS lab very popular as they allow efficient health data management.
Store-and-forward telehealth is a way to share patient information with the relevant people, such as medical professionals, whenever this is needed. Clinical information on patient medical history, laboratory results, and any other relevant files are instantly made available on request.
This is advantageous for both patients and doctors alike since getting a second expert opinion or medical consultation is easier, less time-consuming, and efficient. It also means that patients don’t need to spend extra money to travel to obtain second opinions or alternative diagnoses for their medical problems. Additionally, store-and-forward telehealth has been breaking barriers in accessibility issues, particularly in remote areas where there may be a high doctor-to-patient ratio and/or lack of relevant medical experts, by making physician collaboration easier, faster, and less costly.
Store-and-forward telehealth technologies cater to all forms of health services such as teleradiology, teledermatology, teledermoscopy, retinal screening, and telepathology. This helps patients get the absolute best form of medical care regardless of their location.
Mobile health allows healthcare service, delivery, and intervention to users. It allows users with smartphones to benefit from a range of helpful applications that allow them to keep track of indicators such as heart rate, pulse rate, steps per day, dietary tracking, sleep cycles, weight fluctuations, and much more. This is a fantastic way to encourage behavior change and a transition towards a healthy and active lifestyle.
The information can then be integrated with patient clinical records through a dynamic process, all of which allows medical practitioners a more holistic insight when diagnosing or treating their patients.
When adopting telehealth services, it is important to follow the best practices and the appropriate guidelines in order to protect patient information and provide optimum level of medical care. It also requires training healthcare professionals to adopt ethical and legal practices when providing patients with remote medical care.
Additionally, it also requires making the entire experience more user-friendly. Some examples to work on include providing multiple payment options and having a forward-looking approach with interoperable systems for greater insight into patient data.
The world is increasingly becoming connected and integrated despite geographical restrictions, which means that telehealth is here to stay even after the pandemic. As funding for telehealth services is on the rise, it is crucial for healthcare providers to improve and innovate their telehealth quality to enhance the patient experience.
As telehealth improves patient care, enhances clinical workflows, increases patient reach to medical services, lowers medical costs, and saves time, it is beneficial for both healthcare providers and its beneficiaries to seek telehealth.