A discussion around the state of rural broadband. Speakers focused on the impact that the lack of internet access has had on rural communities before and during the COVID-19 pandemic and its implication on telehealth.
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This was a discussion about the advancement of telehealth and related technologies in the face of a global pandemic and what the future looks like for health care for older adults.
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Telehealth is the use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to extend care when you and the doctor are not in the same place at the same time. If you have a phone, a tablet, or a desktop device with the internet, you already have everything you need to do telehealth.
Telehealth refers to the delivery and facilitation of health and health-related services including medical care, provider and patient education, health information services, and self-care via telecommunications and digital communication technologies. Telemedicine is a subset of telehealth that refers solely to the provision of health care services and education over a distance, through the use of telecommunications technology. Telemedicine involves the use of electronic communications and software to provide clinical services to patients without an in-person visit. Telemedicine technology is frequently used for follow-up visits, management of chronic conditions, medication management, specialist consultation, and a host of other clinical services that can be provided remotely via secure video and audio connections.
Although many different types of telehealth exist, there are four main categories of telehealth that exist in today’s medical industry. The benefits of each category vary and can support you, and your patients, in different ways depending on what you need to get a full scope of their health.
- Live Videoconferencing – This is the most well-known type of telehealth. It consists of a live, two-way video-based conference between a patient and their health care provider. This type of telehealth is widely used by everyone from physicians in local hospitals to providers who own their own private practice. Live videoconferencing not only eliminates commute time and stress for both the patient and provider but also helps to bring health care to areas, usually rural, that don’t have nearly as many health care options as urban areas.
- Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) - This is often used for seniors or in senior living areas. Remote patient monitoring is the collection of a patient’s health data from a patient or resident in one location that is then electronically sent to a health care professional (provider, nurse, etc.) for monitoring and review. RPM is especially helpful in senior living areas in order to prevent falls and keep a watchful eye on residents’ vitals.
- Asynchronous Video (AKA Store-and-Forward) – This consists of the electronic delivery of a patient’s documented health history outside of real-time, used by a health care provider. Commonly used in rural areas when providers are consulting with a specialist in another location, this type of telehealth also helps bring healthcare to areas where it, especially in terms of specialists, is sparse.
- Mobile Health (mHealth) – This is the use of smart devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.), and the health-based software apps developed for these devices, that support continued healthcare. Many health-based apps exist now and can monitor everything from a diabetic patient’s blood sugar level to one’s daily water intake. These apps help to encourage healthier lifestyle behaviors and also (if designed to) can integrate with a patient’s personal health records.
In many cases, yes. Many insurers voluntarily pay for telehealth visits and 26 states have laws requiring them to do so. The laws vary, so it makes sense to learn more about the rules in the state where you live or practice. To learn more about telemedicine in your state visit https://www.cchpca.org/ and select your state on the map to learn your state’s current telehealth-related laws and regulations.
Be sure to check with your insurance company to confirm the services covered.
Telehealth is currently being used to treat conditions across many different specialties. Here are just a few examples: Rashes, flu, sinus infections, UTI, migraines, acne, mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling, post-op check-ins, lab result reviews, contraceptive counseling, prescription refills, and much more. Check with your doctor to see what conditions they treat via telehealth.
The sign-up process can vary from provider to provider. Check with your health care provider and they will provide you with information on how to log in and/or register for their application. Simply click on that and answer a few questions about your medical history to get started.
Yes! As long as your diagnosis doesn't require further in-person examination, your doctor can simply electronically prescribe your medication and send it directly to the nearest pharmacy of your choice.