Is it Telemedicine?
Telemedicine by definition (American Telemedicine Association) is "the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve patients' health status". In essence connecting the patient and physician for the delivery of clinical care.
Telehealth encompasses a broader definition of remote healthcare that goes beyond the clinical encounter to connect the entire network of care in supporting the overall wellness of the patient. Not only utilizing videoconferencing, transmission of still images, and remote monitoring of vital signs, but specialist referral consultation, preventative care, continuing physician and nursing medical education via distance learning, and integrated administrative services (e.g. EMR).
What is the difference between Telehealth and E-health?
Telehealth and e-health can be used interchangeably as both expand beyond a real-time, face-to-face visual examination using a computer monitor, to the "intersection of medical informatics, public health and business, referring to health services and information delivered or enhanced through the Internet and related technologies" [Journal of Medical Internet Research].
What specialities can utilize Telehealth?
Virtually all specialties can and do utilize telehealth. Practitioners can do
fundoscopic exams, EKG’s, and hearing tests, for example, with technologically
advanced digital instruments, using the hands-on skills of an experienced allied
health professional or telemedicine extender. The practitioner and telemedicine extender work together to carry out the patient exam. Using various medical instruments the physician has access to the same information that they would hear and/or see if they were in the same room with the patient; the quality of videoconferencing technology allows the physician to observe the patient’s voice inflection and body language as if they were having a face-to-face encounter.
Other uses for Telehealth?
- Follow-up assessment of surgical incisions, wound care, skin conditions and edema (using video and high-resolution digital snapshots)
- Remote monitoring and recording of surgeries for supervision and education
- Bedside patient monitoring
- Behaviorial health
- Emergency "disaster" support
What are the general benefits of a Telehealth system?
The Telehealth system is designed to generate revenue, significantly reduce cost and to improve the quality and timeliness of the delivery of medical services. With additional use of the equipment, it will improve access to education for medical professionals and improve communication between medical practitioners.
What are the specific benefits for the patient?
- Access to specialist physicians and other healthcare professionals in a more timely and convenient manner
- Patients do not have to travel to a doctor’s office to receive direct personal attention from their health care provider
- Decreases the cost of travelling distances for medical care
- Early detection and promotion of better health outcomes
- Earlier discharge from hospitalized care
- Patient education
How does Telehealth impact malpractice?
Adding visual documentation to the medical record enables enhanced communication and defense of any action. But more than that, malpractice is less likely to occur when front-line healthcare providers can rapidly access specialty physicians who can advise them on difficult or infrequent procedures or assist with making a tough, differential diagnoses.
How are visits documented?
All encounters can be recorded (including both audio and visual components), while the physician
notes are dictated or entered electronically. Only health care providers and those authorized to view your medical record will have access to any data.
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