The world is moving towards a digital world in every aspect of life. So how come the health department can stay behind? The best example of the use of digital information and communication technology is Telehealth. Telehealth allows you to access health care services and manage your health care by staying at home. For instance, a diabetic patient can use their mobile phone or other devices to upload their diet routine, their blood sugar levels and their medications with dosages and can get a nurse who analyzes these things and respond digitally. Estimation of insulin, carbohydrate counting, online test results, doctor appointments, supplies for testing, retinal photo-screening, all these within a single device with your doctor present there as well can be useful for a diabetic person without even stepping out of their house or tiring themselves.
Goals of Telehealth
The main goal is to make healthcare accessible to all, whether you live in a rural or secluded area, have limited resources such as transportation, time or movability. The other goals include access to healthcare specialists, the improved connection between the healthcare team and the patient by improving communication and coordination. It also enables a person to selflessly manage their health without visiting a doctor.
Services of Telehealth
Firstly, the primary service that Telehealth provides is their patient portal, a more secure option than emails that lets you store your private information and allows you to communicate with a doctor, schedule appointments, review test results and request for prescription refills.
Secondly, Virtual appointment and Remote Monitoring allows the patients to see their doctors or nurses through video conferences or you can treat your minor illness through web-based service by answering a few questions online. Similarly, a nurse call center is arranged that provides healthcare advice for home without prescribing any medications. While distant monitoring includes 24/7 monitoring of blood sugar, blood pressure, changes in normal activities and other vital for all age groups through wireless or wired devices and then these are shared online with your doctor to keep an eye on your health.
Thirdly, doctor to doctor communication for connection between primary care doctors and specialists to communicate and prescribe better medication to the patient and this also eliminates the wait time for specialists and unnecessary referrals to the specialist’s doctors. Though, the personal health care system (PHR) holds the patients’ medical records for access during an emergency or their doctor details and contact if needed.
Lastly, personal healthcare applications help the patient to record physical activity, health information, and vitals and also keep track of their calorie intake and give reminders to take medicine for better health, all the while staying at home.
Benefits of Telehealth
Telehealth technology has the power to improve healthcare quality and make healthcare available to more people despite the areas or limitations. Telehealth is a step in providing efficient, better coordinated and in the home or closer to home healthcare facilities. Telehealth is a new concept, but it’s gaining its success. For instance, a review study in 2016 found that telephone-based support and telemonitoring of vital signs of people together for heart failure gradually reduced the risk of death or hospitalization for such people and improving their quality of life.
Telehealth billing includes various codes that are given to the patients by analyzing their health conditions and then as per the telehealth billing policies their bills are made and physicians can also waive or reduce patient cost-sharing but the medical will not provide the physician with reimbursement of those costs.
Every technology introduced has some limitations to it; similarly, Telehealth also has few limitations. While this service provides better healthcare but it also includes the risk of fragmenting healthcare. Such type of healthcare may lead to inappropriate or overuse of medications, gaps in care or overlapping care that is not required. Also, limited access to internet availability or higher mobile devices costs in few regions may limit the use of telehealth. People who can’t pay for such a service, insurance reimbursement variable within states and types of insurance can limit the potential benefits of Telehealth.
This is a great technology that can be used for better healthcare with perfect coordination and communication between doctor and patient while eliminating the limitations to minimize any fragmented healthcare that may be harmful for the patient.