TeleHealth is a term we hear and see a lot these days. But what is it exactly? And what is the difference with eHealth and mHealth?
Let’s find out!
What is Telehealth?
TeleHealth is the use of technology in healthcare to deliver healthcare, health information and patient education. All from a distance. A wide variety of technologies and tactics are used to deliver these virtual health and education services. TeleHealth in itself is not a service. It is a collection of technologies to improve care and education delivery.
Our definition of teleHealth is as follows:
The use of information and communication technologies to support long distance healthcare, patient and provider education, public health and health administration.
Types of Telehealth
There are four types of teleHealth applications. Real time communication, store-and-forward, remote patient monitoring and mHealth.
Let’s first look at real time communication.
Real Time Telehealth
Real time teleHealth services focus on live, two way communication between two or more people. This communication can happen between patient, caregiver and provider(s). Real time communication can even be a substitute for an in-person doctor’s appointment.
Other examples of real time communication are a patient and nurse consulting with a specialist via a live video or audiolink. Or a physician and patient using an interpreter connected by phone of webcam. Even specialist practitioners holding a teleconference is a form of real time communication.
Another type of teleHealth is store-and-forward. This refers to storing and forwarding recorded health history, like video, scans and x-rays through a secure system.
TeleHealth offers the ability to quickly send a patient’s medical history and information to other practitioners or specialists for further analysis or diagnosis.
[Further Reading – 5 Ways to Combine Hospital Information Systems with Patient Entertainment Systems]
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)
Remote patient monitoring highlights the ‘distance’ part of teleHealth. It allows for patient data collection in one location and delivery to a healthcare provider in another location.
RPM is a service that helps care professionals to continue to track the patient’s healthcare data once they are released from hospital. Doctor’s can keep an eye on how the patient is doing at home or at another care facility.
This has proven to help reduce re-admission rates tremendously. Remote patient monitoring helps patients stay healthy in their home. Without having to physically meet with their doctor.
mHealth (Mobile Health)
mHealth is often also referred to as eHealth. It is a service that uses mobile communication to support healthcare and patient education. mHealth takes advantage of all modern devices we use every day like smartphones and tablets.
A great mHealth example is sending wide-scale alerts about disease outbreaks. And even messages to promote healthy behavior. Another mHealth example are bedside healthcare displays. They allow patients to communicate with friends and family and with their doctor. Who might be at the other side of the hospital.
An added bonus of these healthcare displays is that they improve clinical workflow by integrating them with EHR systems.