Technology is making major changes with the way we live. From education to entertainment, the development of new technology is making waves. Healthcare is also feeling the impact of these fast-paced advances.
One technological development that both laymen and practitioners, such as physical therapists, should keep track of is telehealth. In the next few minutes, you will learn some important details about this development. You can then decide if it is a good thing or a bad thing.
What is Telehealth?
Let’s start with the basics.
First, what is telehealth?
Telehealth is a term used to describe the use of telecommunications technology for the improvement of public health, health education, and healthcare.
As you might realize, telehealth is a very broad term and there are so many things that would fall under it. It’s not a specific service, but rather a collection of ways that health care can be enhanced and delivered more efficiently. In general, it is applied when technology is used to conquer physical distances when providing healthcare.
These are some of the things that you should know about telehealth:
Telemedicine and Telehealth
Telehealth is often confused with Telemedicine and those two terms are used interchangeably. The latter is an older term which is used for traditional forms of diagnosis which is delivered through the use communication technology.
Telehealth is the term that is now more commonly used. It’s a name for the use of technology in delivering care to patients.
This is a live two-way interaction between two or more persons. It can be between a person and a provider who is using technology to communicate. This kind of interaction is also known as “real-time” and is mostly used as a replacement for the traditional person-to-person encounter.
This use of video technology can be a great life-saving technology. Typically, live video is used for consultative and for diagnosis.
Store and Forward
As the name would suggest, under this system, the health record or information is stored and then transferred later. Records that can be transmitted through this system included digital images, x-rays, photos, and videos.
Compared to an actual person to person visit, store-and-forward means that it can be sent once the records are complete. The records are sent through secured email. This means patients can gain access to specialized care even if there no specialist near their area and it is more convenient for them.
Remote Patient Monitoring
This is when medical data and personal health information is collected in one location and then transferred or sent to a practitioner who is in a different location. This kind of telehealth is useful for tracking the condition of a patient after release.
Under mobile health, mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and computers are used for supporting health practice. The use of text messages which remind a person to live healthy can fall under this category.
Lowering Costs and Removes Barriers
Telehealth is changing the healthcare industry today. Patients today are asking for lower costs, better care, and convenience when it comes to the access to the service. Telehealth is a way for patients to get quality health services at lower costs.
Patients will avoid services that are expensive and difficult to access at the same time. Telehealth can solve those two problems. That is why more patients and providers are preferring it over traditional forms of healthcare.
Telehealth is improving American healthcare system and that’s very significant. It has national implications since healthcare makes up 17% of the GDP.
Laws Regarding Telehealth
The laws and regulations concerning telehealth are changing. That’s because there is an increasing number of healthcare providers that are incorporating telehealth into their practice. There are several factors that need to be understood in dealing with Medicare telehealth reimbursements.
First, a practitioner must be aware if the distance separating the patient and the healthcare facility would qualify it as a distant site. The location should also be considered as a Health Professional Shortage Area. The facility should also be classified as a private practice or hospital. Proper coding is also crucial in getting properly reimbursed.
Plenty of Possibilities
The use of telehealth is opening numerous possibilities. It is now being used to monitor the condition of patients who have been discharged. It can also be helpful to patients who might avoid treatment because they cannot afford it.
But the most promising area where telehealth can improve healthcare is in treating patients who are suffering from chronic diseases and conditions. They can gain access to practitioners who might be living in a different area
As communications technology and the internet is improved, telehealth will play an increasingly important role in healthcare. Practitioners like physical therapists and occupational therapists should consider including telehealth into what they are offering to patients. It could be the main way that healthcare will be provided in the future.