Telehealth and telemedicine are used throughout the healthcare continuum – connecting patient care team members to their patients and families from anywhere in the world.
New advances in telehealth have driven the expansion of services beyond virtual consultations to include remote monitoring, real-time health updates, and fully remote consulting services through smartphone applications. Although challenges persist with the accessibility and availability of telehealth services – the rise of these services lays the groundwork for future medical practices.
Continue reading to learn more about telehealth:
What is telehealth?
Telehealth and telemedicine allow healthcare providers to connect with new and established patients without an in-person visit. These services are typically administered over online video-conferencing platforms but can expand to include phone calls, text messages, or direct communications. In recent years, smartphone applications have popped up on the marketplace, providing prescription services to therapy consultations through a network of providers without a physical office location.
Telehealth Vs. Telemedicine
It is important to distinguish telehealth from telemedicine. Although the two are similar, they are different in their scope of practice and administration. Telehealth is a general term used to describe healthcare service interactions that include but are not limited to the clinical scope of practice. This includes patient care services, hospital billing, compliance, and legal teams. Telemedicine, however, is exclusive to the clinical aspects of healthcare – meaning nursing, specialists, physicians, practitioners, and more. Continue reading to learn more about telehealth and telemedicine applications:
Who administers telehealth services?
Telehealth and telemedicine can be applied across the healthcare continuum. Each healthcare team member can utilize telehealth to connect with patients and administer care. Here are just some of the healthcare professionals using telemedicine to connect with patients:
– Registered Nurses
– Specialists-Care Physicians
– Patient Service Representatives
– Clinical Mental Health Counselors
– Home Health Providers
– Health Service Managers
What does it look like in practice?
Telehealth and telemedicine can look different based on who is providing the care. While telehealth tends to incorporate more administrative services, telemedicine applies more advanced clinical expertise. Here are some examples of how administrators and clinical healthcare providers use telehealth and telemedicine to connect with patients:
– Nurses use telemedicine to check patient vitals and perform health assessments.
– Dermatologists use telemedicine to examine patients with skin conditions.
– Specialists use telemedicine to review lab results or consult on x-ray results.
– Clinics use telemedicine to connect with patients to answer health-related questions.
– Billing uses telemedicine to connect with patients to work out bill discrepancies.
When is telehealth appropriate to use?
Telehealth and telemedicine services can vary depending on the individual field of practice, the scope of a medical visit, and the network capabilities of the provider. While telemedicine would not be ideal for helping set a fracture or deal with internal bleeding, services such as counseling, routine check-ups, and prescription consultations are all services telehealth and telemedicine can help. Here are some examples of appropriate telehealth uses:
– Online counseling services
– Medication management / Medication refill consultations
– Medical results follow-up for x-rays, bloodwork, or biopsy
– Follow-ups for surgical recovery or physical therapy
– Urgent care consultations for common colds, the flu, or COVID-19
Where can patients access telehealth care?
Since telehealth and telemedicine are available online, patients can access services from anywhere with cellular or internet connectivity. In addition, the flexibility of telehealth services allows patients to connect with providers without needing to travel to a physical location. Here are some places patients can connect with providers using telemedicine.
– From home
– From work
– While boarding at school
– While on vacation
– On a business trip
Are there disadvantages of telehealth and telemedicine?
Although telehealth and telemedicine are great options for those who can access them, there is still a significant population who are unable to benefit from telehealth due to issues with accessibility, affordability, and privacy. While providers do what they can to work around these issues and help provide access for all patients to telehealth, challenges remain. Here are some of the difficulties patients can face when trying to access telehealth services:
– Poor internet connection or no internet connection at all
– Difficulties in accessing the correct technology for appointments.
– Difficulties in understanding how to use technology to access telehealth services.
– Concerns relating to patient privacy within their home.
– Lack of access to providers offering telehealth services to their patients
Preparing for the future of telehealth and telemedicine
It is an inevitability that as innovations in personal and enterprise technology persist, the likelihood of new and emerging innovations in telehealth and telemedicine will forge new paths.
Innovations will bring new competencies for healthcare providers to understand and new skills in the training, implementation, management, and utilization of these technologies by clinical and administrative healthcare providers. In addition, the University of Providence prepares students to meet future healthcare challenges. Our programs offer students skills for the present and ready them to be lifelong learners in their desired fields – embracing change and pushing forward to embrace challenges and further focus on patient-first care across nursing, healthcare administration, and mental health counseling.