Telehealth is the use of technology to deliver health care, health information or health education at a distance. The boundaries of telehealth are limited only by the technology available.
teleradiology – when test results are forwarded to another facility for diagnosis;
continuing professional education – presentations by specialists to distant general practitioners; and
home monitoring – a supplement to home visits from nursing professionals.
Telehealth can be divided into two general types of applications:
This may be a patient and a nurse practitioner consulting with a specialist via a live audio/video link, or a physician and a patient in an exam room communicating through an interpreter who is connected by phone or webcam. Another example might be a cardiologist holding a teleconference with internists about new best practices in treating angina.
This refers to the transmission of digital images, as in radiology or dermatology, for a diagnosis. Store-and-forward programs can allow a smaller hospital to draw on the knowledge of a much larger one.
In general, telehealth can be thought of as a way of increasing the contact between a patient and the medical system. It can bring additional expertise to consult on a case, reach out to patients when they’re at home or save travel time and expense for both practitioners and patients. Telehealth shows great potential for advancing preventative medicine and the treatment of chronic conditions and can effectively shrink the distance patients and the medical care they need.