Definition — What is Telehealth?
Telehealth is a broad term that encompasses a variety of methods of virtual healthcare services that incorporate electronic information and telecommunications technologies to provide remote care to patients. Unlike telemedicine, this type of virtual healthcare extends beyond providing patient consultations. It includes remote medical education and planning or administrative meetings as well. There are limitations, though. Telehealth services may not be beneficial in cases where in-depth examinations, medical testing, or surgery are required. Providing long-distance patient and clinician contact, care, advice, monitoring, and more, Telehealth expands the reach and impact of the healthcare system while reducing costs and increasing convenience. The method by which a physician carries out their telehealth services may vary. Healthcare professionals may use video conferencing tools, media streaming, phone calls, emails, or a combination of these to provide care to patients safely and efficiently.
Although Telehealth began over 50 years ago when NASA developed telehealth services for astronauts on long-duration missions, only in the last few years virtual visits between doctors and patients have become very common, especially with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the 1970s and 1980s, they used radios for remote health communication later developed into telephone use in the 1990s, now in recent days healthcare practitioners communicate through a live audio or video feed via phone, webcam, or through other technological means. According to a 2020 Telehealth EHR survey by Medical Economics, 77% of doctors used telehealth for the first time as a result of the coronavirus. Many also found that their ability to deliver quality healthcare was less diminished than they had previously believed it would be. Telehealth technology provides opportunities to make health care more efficient, better coordinated, and closer to home.