Hold the Phone: What Exactly Is Telehealth?
Health is a top priority for many of us. However, finding the time or energy to keep up with healthy habits can be almost impossible in this day and age. With busy work and school schedules, you’ll be hard pressed to find any room for regular doctor visits.
It can make the best of us long for the days when doctors used to visit their patients’ homes to treat them. Through the generations, the way we have maintained our health has changed, but past practices can be revitalized and renewed to fulfill a current purpose and need.
Although doctor home visits are not as commonplace as they used to be, an alternative to having a doctor on call has been developed. This alternative is known as telehealth. Through telehealth, you can be in contact with a medical professional within moments without stepping a foot outside your home.
Even though this term is not a new one, many are still unfamiliar what telehealth actually is. What does telehealth entail, and who is it exactly available to? Even though this tool may be somewhat unfamiliar, telehealth shows signs of becoming a popular health option in the near future.
What Is Telehealth?
Telehealth — also known as telemedicine — is a way to provide medical care to patients no matter where they are. Through the use of the internet, phones, and video conferencing, many services can be utilized by individuals who may not have had access to these resources before.
Some of these services include health education, prescribing medications, and consultations. Telehealth also aids in disaster and emergency responses by aiding in volunteer registration, the management of patient records, and the tracking of available medical resources, such as hospital beds, medical equipment, medicine, and qualified personnel.
Telehealth is not meant to serve as a replacement for hospitals but to fill some of the gaps found in healthcare. This tool is viewed as the natural progression of the health industry since technology is being used more now than ever before to encourage healthy lifestyle changes in a multitude of areas.
Due to telehealth, benefits such as more regular care for individuals in rural communities and an overall decrease in medical expenses have been enjoyed by many who take advantage of this development. Doctors may not be coming around houses like they used to, but now they’re just a phone call or click away from providing you with the care you need.
What Telehealth Professionals Do
The health industry has a variety of roles and positions that medical professionals are responsible for. Telehealth is one of those responsibilities qualified individuals oversee — but what is it like exactly for the professional who’s on the other side of the line in this practice? First off, the use of telehealth is not isolated in only one area of medicine.
Counseling, physical therapy, and home healthcare are just a few of the arenas where medical professionals and telehealth overlap. Although locations may differ, the level and quality of care remain the same whether doctors or nurses are face-to-face with a patient or not. It’s really a matter of a mastering a different set of tools to provide excellent care to patients.
Instead of using a stethoscope or a blood pressure cuff, digital software and wearable technology are used to be their hands and eyes instead. Medical professionals utilize telehealth in a number of ways as well, including:
- Communicating with patients over the phone or video conference.
- EvaIuating images, videos, and other patient data that are sent electronically from patients and other medical professionals.
- Collecting data from wearable devices and analyzing it.
- Recommending the use of different healthcare apps.
As telehealth continues to gain in popularity and use, more and more medical professionals such as doctors and nurses will need to be well versed in this technology. Since all care is done remotely, the quality and level of care must still be maintained in order for this tool to make the greatest impact.
Why Telehealth Is on Hold
Satisfaction rates for telehealth are extremely high with most people ready to see this technology become more widespread. So why is it that telehealth is not easily available for everyone yet? The answer is twofold in regards to this issue. First, there’s simply a lack of funding for this tool.
Not all medical establishments can afford the equipment and training needed to implement telehealth. Additionally, patient privacy is another reason telehealth is on pause. Hospitals are already targeted by hackers that hijack patient data in hopes of getting a ransom paid.
The main problem resides in the fact that mobile devices play a huge role in telehealth. Mobile devices may make remote medical care possible, but it also increases the possibility for other people to steal patient information. Data on mobile devices is less secure than on other digital tools since wireless networks are more susceptible to cyber attacks. So with the ease of access to telehealth comes the risk of comprising patients’ information. Updated privacy policies will have to be created and security steps and training put in place so that patient data is as safe as possible.
Telehealth may be on hold, but it’s predicted that this tool will have a bigger role in healthcare as this sector evolves. So although doctors don’t make house calls as much as they used to, soon they’ll be just as accessible as they were before because of telehealth.
Amethyst Tagney is a freelancer who spends her time writing on a variety of topics. She is an avid learner and loves to share what she discovers. You can find her on Twitter @AmTagWrites