Telehealth: The delivery of health care, health education, and health information services via remote technologies. Read about telehealth technologies, services, and reimbursement issues.
Telehealth is characterized as the provision and facilitation of health and health services, including medical care, provider and patient education, health information services, and self-care through telecommunications and digital communications technologies. Live video conferencing, mobile health apps, “store and forward” electronic transmission, and remote patient monitoring (RPM) are examples of technologies used in telehealth.
Services of Telehealth
Patient telehealth services have also been able to provide providers with remote monitoring of the patient, consumer health communication and information and medical education. Typically, delivery techniques include networked programs that link tertiary medical centers to outlying centres and clinics in rural areas, home phone-video connections, point-to-point connection to hospitals and clinics, web-based e-health service pages and home monitoring links.
However, adoption and investment in telehealth services have been too high for a while, and the distribution of telehealth resolutions and hospital-based networks has been too expensive. But due to technological improvement, improved broadband services are now powerful and easily affordable which makes the level of return on investment in telehealth higher than ever before. Telehealth programs can be extended to almost all medical specialities by real-time audio and video in connecting clinicians with various patients at different locations. In other cases, service centers may use telemedicine to collect data remotely, as well as send data for interpretation to a central monitoring system.
It is common for outlying healthcare facilities to transfer patients unnecessarily or forced to refer to complex cases that go beyond the local providers’ knowledge base. Consequently, patients are frequently transported across long distances for direct treatment or telehealth consultation by specialists. Such referrals and transfers can be very costly for the patient because they present health, organizational, and financial problems for all interested parties. Telemedicine will mitigate these problems, decrease travel rates and produce substantial efficiencies and returns for all interested parties.
Telehealth services are becoming increasingly popular both because of the convenience and demonstrated efficacy associated with it. There is now a convergence of events that benefit both patients and the telehealth industry; a) Information technology makes telehealth services more affordable and accessible, B) the Affordable Care Act, also known as the “Obama Care Act,” provides incentives for telehealth as a cost-effective medical service, and c) more than twenty states and Washington D.C. They have also enacted legislation mandating private telehealth insurance coverage when the same service is covered during an in-office visit. Interestingly, while providing health care insurance for all Americans, the Affordable Care Act also introduces millions of new people into a system that has a growing physician shortage. This brings new opportunities for physicians in telehealth.
It pleases us to see the combination of advancing technology and enabling legislation. These days things are quite easy and the people have lots of opportunities in almost every aspect of their lives. The 21st-century world is a better place to live because technology brings benefits and provides greater access to services.
Telehealth growth in Physician Opportunities
As the telemedicine industry grows, so do opportunities for physicians—especially physicians who have previous experience with technology. But the industry still faces challenges when it comes to convincing health care providers that telemedicine is as effective as a traditional medicine in providing patient care.
Physician growth of telehealth increased 340 per cent from 2015 to 2018. Additionally, 69 per cent of physicians indicated a willingness to try telehealth. The survey estimates by 2022, as many as 590,000 physicians will be using telehealth.
Physicians are starting to welcome the disruptive approach to health care and are slowly realizing its benefits—cost improvements, access to remote people or those without physicians, as well as a fun way to see patients via tech, which can help with burnout.
A December 2016 report on telemedicine from Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration found that nearly half of the state’s hospitals have adopted telemedicine services. However, there is significant uncertainty in what is considered telemedicine because of varying definitions across federal, state and private sectors. Most providers have also acknowledged a lack of comprehensive telemedicine information due to too little educational resources and incentives for training.
The industry is set to grow at an exponential rate across the U.S., but there is still some inconsistency in how the industry will function in the long term.
It’s still a very fragmented industry that changes on a state-by-state basis.
Telemedicine is not necessarily revolutionary or new. The basic idea has been around for decades, but it has gained acceptance with the advancements in streaming media over the past 10 years.
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