What is telehealth?
Telehealth is the use of communicative technologies to support health care services outside of one’s clinical environment. Such health programs can be run for people who are hospitalized or, for example, in quarantine. Telehealth can mobilize all aspects of healthcare and reduce the transmission of disease. With the use of telehealth, it is easier to guide patients to appropriate levels of care, ensure the safety of online health services, protect patients, clinicians, and the community from exposure to infection, and finally reduce the burden on healthcare providers and the healthcare system.
What do we gain from telehealth?
Telehealth services are provided with real-time or store-and-forward techniques. Due to rapid technological advances, we can now say that most families own digital devices such as smartphones. Consequently, it should be considered that communication between the patient and the healthcare providers is possible with their use. Healthcare is delivered by digital means and individuals can stay in their homes or different healthcare facilities. Today, the wide, and in the future, even wider access to care providers is extremely convenient and beneficial for patients. As a result, we can consider this technology to be attractive, effective, and increasingly affordable. The growing popularity of telehealth solutions will make these services even more accessible to an ever wider range of people. The COVID-19 pandemic has also significantly influenced and forced providers to incorporate telehealth solutions into their operations. There is a strong need to expand these technologies. In terms of benefits to patients these are:
- More accessible care – services can help patients access quality care quickly,
- Reduced risk of infection – the possibility of contactless solutions to diagnosis and treat patients during times of pandemic, for example
- Faster delivery of care – reduced waiting time to see a specialist or in case of an emergency
- Improved chronic diseases management and patient outcomes – people with chronic disease who require ongoing care and support from clinicians can receive this through telehealth, resulting in more efficient care and on-demand access to disease management tools.
Read more: Health apps – do they improve patient care?
Telehealth plays an increasingly important role today. Digital recording and selective data sharing facilitate surveillance at regional, national, and international levels. Telehealth enables epidemiological research, which then influences future healthcare provision.