While many branches of medicine have wanted to fully embrace telehealth for a long time, there are certain risks and barriers which bar the full amalgamation of telehealth into best practice. For a start, it is dubious as to whether a practitioner can fully leave the "hands-on" experience behind. Although it is predicted that telehealth will replace many consultations and other health interactions, it cannot yet fully replace a physical examination, this is particularly so in diagnostics, rehabilitation or mental health.
Since the internet and mobile devices now pervade our lives, it is natural that people want to leverage telehealth technologies to improve care, offer convenience, promote access, and support sustainability. Telehealth services range from consultations and video conference mental health sessions to public health broadcast text messaging and on-demand provider education.
As telehealth continues to replace traditional health care, it is going to inherit some of its challenges. These include increased cost of care due to multiple vendors, complex care pathways, and government policies. However, the question that remains to be answered is will this advanced technology that we call telehealth, be able to redefine the quality, equity and affordability of healthcare throughout the world.
While widespread research on the effects of telemedicine is still relatively young, many studies do show positive results. When the Veterans Health Administration implemented telemedicine for past heart attack patients, they sawhospital readmissions due to heart failure drop by 51%. Another study on the Geisinger Health Plan showed that telemedicine reduced 30-day hospital readmissions by as much as 44%. And while telemedicine skeptics often claim virtual visits tend to be lower quality than in-person visits, a recent study of 8,000 patients who used telemedicine recorded no difference in care outcomes between in-person and virtual care.
Teleneuropsychology (Cullum et al., 2014) is the use of telehealth/videoconference technology for the remote administration of neuropsychological tests. Neuropsychological tests are used to evaluate the cognitive status of individuals with known or suspected brain disorders and provide a profile of cognitive strengths and weaknesses. Through a series of studies, there is growing support in the literature showing that remote videoconference-based administration of many standard neuropsychological tests results in test findings that are similar to traditional in-person evaluations, thereby establishing the basis for the reliability and validity of teleneuropsychological assessment.
Telehealth is a modern form of health care delivery. Telehealth breaks away from traditional health care delivery by using modern telecommunication systems including wireless communication methods. Traditional health is legislated through policy to ensure the safety of medical practitioners and patients. Consequently, since telehealth is a new form of health care delivery that is now gathering momentum in the health sector, many organizations have started to legislate the use of telehealth into policy. In New Zealand, the Medical Council has a statement about telehealth on their website. This illustrates that the medical council has foreseen the importance that telehealth will have on the health system and have started to introduce telehealth legislation to practitioners along with government.
Today the telemedicine field is changing faster than ever before. As technology advances at exponential levels, so does the widespread affordability and accessibility to basic telemedicine tools. For example, not only do we now have the technology for live video telemedicine, but much of the U.S. population has experience using online videochat apps (like Skype or Facetime), and access to a computer or mobile device to use them.
Not all state and federal agencies define telehealth in exactly the same terms, but most are fairly consistent with the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, which defines telehealth this way, “The use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration.”
Healthcare providers currently earn their medical licenses for a specific state. This lets them practice medicine legally in that state, and only that state. This presents a problem for telemedicine, as the entire goal is to break down geographical barriers between a patient and provider. According to medical licensing regulations, a specialist based in Colorado would not be legally allowed to treat a patient in New Mexico.
Remote monitoring, also known as self-monitoring or testing, enables medical professionals to monitor a patient remotely using various technological devices. This method is primarily used for managing chronic diseases or specific conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes mellitus, or asthma. These services can provide comparable health outcomes to traditional in-person patient encounters, supply greater satisfaction to patients, and may be cost-effective. Examples include home-based nocturnal dialysis and improved joint management.
Founded only eight months ago, Doctor On Demand has gained rapid visibility thanks to its founders, television personality Dr. Phil and his son Jay McGraw who produces The Doctors, a health talk show where viewers can submit questions to a small stable of doctors. The McGraws flog the service on their shows to millions of mostly young women who are not necessarily aware that the McGraws are stakeholders, since disclosure appears with the credit roll. (Rival Dr. Oz who’s an investor in health and wellness platform Sharecare also uses his show to publicize that start-up).
Originally, health professionals developed this technology to reach remote patients living in the rural areas. But with time, medical staff and the U.S. government saw the big picture – the potential to reach urban populations with healthcare shortages, and to respond to medical emergencies by sharing medical consults and patient health records without delay. In the 1960s, heavy investments from the U.S. Government, including the Public Health Department, NASA, Department of Defense, and the Health and Human Sciences Department drove research and innovation in telemedicine. Sending cardiac rhythms during emergencies started at about this time. For instance, in Miami, the university medical center worked together with the fire rescue department by sending electro-cardiac rhythm signals over the voice radio channels from the rescue sites.
Currently, smokers can seek help in the form of one on one therapy, group counselling sessions, or through medicated means, such as a patch or gum. There are also prescription medications which have shown increasing success across the United States. The most popular of these are Wellbutrin, Zyban, and Chantix. To learn more about these prescriptions and to obtain your own today,click here.
All the doctors in Teladoc's national network are U.S. board-certified family practitioners, primary care physicians, pediatricians and internists who use Electronic Health Records to diagnose, treat and write prescriptions when necessary. When accessing Teladoc, you'll be connected to a doctor in your state. These doctors are all actively practicing physicians and choose to incorporate telemedicine into their medical practice as a way to offer more affordable, convenient access to quality care.
Erin Aas has worked in primary care since 2005 and provided virtual care since 2012. Since receiving his Master of Nursing from Seattle University, he has provided comprehensive primary healthcare and promoted cultural competency in a variety of community health settings. In addition to his full-time work in virtual care, he works shifts in a local Emergency Department. He is proficient in conversational and medical Spanish. Outside of work, he is an accomplished guitarist, choral composer and Ironman triathlete.